Catalysis and Energy Interlinked as Businesses

2011 Spring Symposium

John N. Armor
Orefield, PA, USA

Abstract – Energy is one of the biggest businesses in the world, and catalysis plays a big part in making this happen. For 2010, the projected market for catalysts for energy and environmental segments exceeded $16. billion (Bharat Book Bureau, June 2010). This presentation will describe the importance of understanding how current and future energy needs and usage fit intimately into catalysis and chemistry. Energy needs and consumption impact economies worldwide, global environmental concerns, and also the chemical industry. Catalysis plays a pivotal role in creating new, more efficient routes to chemicals and adding flexibility to our spectrum of energy sources, energy carriers, and energy conversion/production, while offering a greener more sustainable solution to future energy demands. Thus, catalysis is fundamental to generating current and future energy solutions, and new energy efficient systems. Catalysis has and will continue to play a key role in the generation of environmentally friendly, sustainable, and cleaner sources of energy. The presentation will look anew at global energy supplies and focus on the components and the increasing role of natural gas (relative to petroleum and coal), renewables, gas purification, and how all this provides multiple opportunities for catalysis, especially with regard to environmental concerns. What is impressive is the past and projected growth of the world’s demand for energy. Over the last 30 years, all of the major fuel options have shown modest growth, but these growth rates are projected to increase significantly over the next 20 years. World energy demand is expect to expand by almost 45% between 2010 and 2030. It is clear that this demand is driven not only by sustained growth in the US and Europe, but by rapid growth in China, India, and other parts of Asia. The key is that demand will remain tight and very susceptible to unpredictable events which can create havoc in the commodities markets. When coupled with increasing populations and people’s natural quest to improve lifestyles, the price of oil (and energy) is projected to only go higher and higher. The demands on energy supply will continue to push nations to retrieve dirtier sources of oil (oil shale and tar sands) and impure natural gas. Those market forces and environmental pressures, through tougher emissions controls and purification standards, will continue to drive continuing growth in catalysts as well as purification methods and materials.

Speaker’s Biography – John N. Armor, PhD, has operated his own international catalysis consulting company, L.L.C., since retiring from Air Products, Inc in 2004 (after 19 years). Before serving as the leader of the Catalysis Research Center at Air Products, he was a group leader at Allied Chemical (11 years), and an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Boston University (4 years). He is a past President of the North American Catalysis Society (2001-2009) and actively involved in other professional organizations, served as an editor of Applied Catalysis and CATTECH, and also has served on several editorial boards. He has published over 125 articles in catalysis and been a co-inventor on over 50 US patents, and he has been internationally recognized by several prestigious awards (including the Houdry and Murphree Awards and the Excellence in Catalysis Award of the Philadelphia Catalysis Club).