High-throughput catalyst testing adoption in oil & petrochemicals


In our continual efforts to understand the current and future needs of our customers, we have recently surveyed the degree of adoption of high-throughput catalyst testing for the oil and petrochemical catalyst markets (focusing fixed-bed applications and only on commercial players, not academic institutions).

Adoption of high-throughput technology

We find that 50% of the catalyst market (by value) has a high degree of adoption, whereby most companies with catalyst R&D have established significant infrastructure of high-throughput testing units, often with multiple units. There are companies that have completely replaced their single-reactor (or limited number of reactors) units with high-throughput systems. Companies without such capabilities are clearly lagging in speed of catalyst development.

25% of the market has partial adoption, and another 25% has no or unknown degree of adoption of high-throughput testing. However, these segments consist of a larger number of fairly small segments, often with concentrated number of catalyst players. An exception is syngas and derivatives, for which there seems an advantage to be had by increased adoption of high-throughput experimentation.

Adoption Segment Example
High Hydrotreating
Some applications
Partial Hydrogenation
Olefins saturation/purification
No or unknown Syngas production
Syngas derivatives
Ammonia, methanol

Some segments in detail

Those segments with a high degree of adoption include hydrotreating, hydrocracking, aromatics (e.g. xylenes) and oxidation. Partial adoption includes segments such as hydrogentation, (selective) dehydrogenation and some other oxidation applications such as acrylonitrile. For some of these, due to the growth in poly-olefins and the mega-trend of oil-to-chemicals, we are seeing increased demand as key existing and new players establish new testing capabilities


In summary, we see that the larger catalyst segments, such as hydrotreating have a high degree of adoption of high-throughput catalyst R&D. However, size is not the only determinant of R&D spend: segment growth, degree of competition and external forces (e.g. regulations) also play a role.

Where such factors do not warrant the establishment of in-house capabilities, out-sourced testing is an option to accelerate R&D. However, we do see catalyst segments where an advantage can be gained by the adoption of high-throughput catalyst testing. Avantium is in the business of accelerating R&D in whatever way, so we will be happy to discuss with you how that may be achieved for your specific application or segment.


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