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Conveying Catalyst: A Chemical Manufacturer’s Guide to Bulk Material Handling of Catalysts

May 23, 2024

Catalysts play a pivotal role in chemical reactions, accelerating or facilitating processes vital to various industries.

However, their unique properties, coupled with stringent handling requirements, demand meticulous attention from manufacturers and processors.

In this article, we delve into the challenges and considerations faced by chemical manufacturers and processors when dealing with the bulk material handling and conveying of catalysts.

Understanding Catalysts and Their Significance

Before delving into the challenges, it's crucial to grasp the essence of catalysts and their significance in chemical processes.

Catalysts are substances that alter the rate of a chemical reaction without undergoing any permanent change themselves.

They enable reactions to proceed under milder conditions, enhancing efficiency, selectivity, and yield in numerous industrial applications.

Common Catalysts and Applications

The diversity of catalysts mirrors the vast array of chemical processes they facilitate.

From petroleum refining to pharmaceutical synthesis, catalysts find applications across multiple sectors.

Some common examples include:


Widely used in petroleum refining and petrochemical industries for cracking hydrocarbons into smaller, more valuable products.

Transition Metal Catalysts

Such as platinum, palladium, and nickel, utilized in hydrogenation reactions in the production of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and food processing.

Homogeneous Catalysts

Like organometallic complexes, crucial in organic synthesis for their ability to enable specific reactions under mild conditions.

Challenges and Risks in Bulk Material Handling and Conveying

While catalysts are indispensable, their handling poses significant challenges:

Abrasion and Degradation

Catalyst particles are often abrasive and can degrade during handling, leading to a loss of catalytic activity and selectivity.


Due to differences in particle size, density, and shape, catalysts are prone to segregation during conveying, impacting the uniformity of the reaction.


Catalysts are highly sensitive to contamination, even in trace amounts, which can adversely affect reaction kinetics and product quality.

Dust Emissions

Fine catalyst particles can become airborne during handling, posing health risks to workers and environmental concerns.


Some catalysts are reactive with air or moisture, necessitating stringent controls to prevent degradation before use.

Mitigating Risks and Ensuring Efficiency

To address these challenges, manufacturers and processors employ various strategies:

Proper Equipment Selection

Investing in specialized equipment designed for handling abrasive materials, such as pneumatic conveyors with wear-resistant linings, minimizes degradation.

Segregation Prevention

Implementing segregation prevention techniques, like maintaining consistent flow rates and using proper vessel design, helps ensure uniformity.

Containment Measures

Employing closed-loop systems and dust collection technologies reduces emissions and protects both workers and the environment.

Packaging and Storage

Utilizing inert atmospheres and moisture-proof packaging during storage mitigates the risk of catalyst degradation.

Quality Control

Rigorous quality control measures, including routine testing for contamination and reactivity, safeguard catalyst integrity.


The efficient handling and conveying of catalysts are paramount for ensuring process reliability, product quality, and worker safety.

While challenges abound, proactive measures and adherence to best practices can mitigate risks and optimize performance.

As the demand for catalyst-driven processes continues to grow, manufacturers and processors must remain vigilant in their approach to bulk material handling, recognizing that precision and care are essential in harnessing the transformative power of catalysts.

UniTrak has a deep understanding of the complexities of bulk material handling in the chemical industry and offers innovative solutions designed to address the unique challenges faced by manufacturers.

Contact us today to learn how we can help optimize your bulk material handling processes and enhance your operational efficiency and safety.

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