66178 - Chemistry of Catalysis M

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student achieves the interdisciplinary knowledges required to evaluate and manage the catalytic processes. He has the competences on the catalytic processes: heterogeneous, homogeneous and enzymatic, especially focused on the preparation and application of heterogeneous catalysts and on the chemical kinetic of the main reactions. Furthermore, he has the competences on the characterization of catalytic materials and on the principles of the adsorption, on the main techniques of characterization and on the electronic and molecular mechanisms of the catalysis, achieved by the knowledges of the phenomena related to chemisorption and the electronic properties of the solids, in particular of their surface.

Course contents

Pre-requisites: concepts of thermodynamic and chemical kinetic, reactivity of the main classes of organic compounds, properties of transition elements, acido-base properties, concepts of the precipitation methods.

  • Fundaments of catalysis. Chemical and physical adsorption. Dissociative and molecular chemisorption.
  • Close packed structures. Lattice planes and Miller indices. Surface transformation.
  • Electronic properties of solids and of their surfaces: energy bands, band gap, metals, semiconductors
  • Transition metals: electronic properties and scale of catalytic activity. Volcano plot. Examples. Chemisorption in oxides and reactivity.
  • Characterization physical-chemical techniques (structure or surface) of heterogeneous catalysts. Volumetric, spectroscopic, diffractometric and thermal analyses. Techniques to investigate the surface properties, direct or with the use of probe chemicals. Forming methods and determination of the mechanical properties.
  • Adsorption and Langmuir's theory. Chemical kinetic: main characteristic and reaction classes (simple, at the equilibrium, parallel and consecutive). "Structure sensitive" reactions and role of the catalyst characteristics. Langmuir-Hinshelwood theory and related exceptions.
  • Green or suistainale chemistry, concepts of process efficiency, integrated technologies and atomic utilzation. Comparison between stoichiometric and catalytic processes. Examples of alternative processes at high efficiency and environmental compatibility.
  • Methods for the characterization of the activity, selectivity and stability of the catalysts. Liquid- or gas-phase reactions. Management of lab-scale pilot plants, in teh frame of the environmental and safety constrains. Techniques for the analysis of he reaction products and mass balances.


1) M.V. Twigg, Catalysis Handbook, Wolfe, London (1989)

2) J.T. Richardson, Principles of Catalyst Development, Plenum Press, New York, 1989.

3) D. Sanfilippo (Ed.), The catalytic process from laboratory to the industrial plant, Marasci, Milano, 1994.

4) B. Imelik, J.C. Vedrine, Les Techniques Physiques d'Etude des Catalyseurs, Ed. Technip, Paris, 1988.

Teaching methods

  • The course is shared in two modules: the first focalised on the fundamentals of the catalysis and the second on the chamico-physical characterisation of heterogeneous catalysts.
  • Lectures, with the employment of a wide number of examples and specific execises to illustrate the different subjects.
  • All the didactic material is preliminary available to the students as both paper and electronic version

Assessment methods

The exam is done through a final test, aimed at ascertaining the acquisition of the expected knolwedge and skills.

The test want to evaluate the comprehension and personal elaboration by the student of the treated themes. Positively will be evaluated the critical and logical capacity to justify the choice proposed.

The final exam consists of an oral test on the full program of both modules, that usually will be sustained at the same time.

The oral exam is divided in two parts:

- the first part consists of a discussion on the topics of the first module about the fundamentals of the catalysis;

- the second part consists of a discussion on the topics of the other module about the chemico-physical characterization of heterogeneous catalysts.

The final vote, out of thirty, is the average of the two contributions described above.

Teaching tools

  • All the didactic material is preliminary available to the student both in paper and electronic form.
  • The books used to prepare the lectures are available at the Library of the Department of Industrial Chemistry "Toso Montanari" of Bologna.
  • Further data and/or information may be obtained consulting the Data Banks of the University also using the new wireless network.

Office hours

See the website of Giuseppe Fornasari