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Course catalogue

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Master SERP+ Programme - cohort 2020-2025

Chemistry and Technology of Catalysis and Laboratory (6 ECTS)


The course will provide students with the basics of preparation, characterization and application of heterogeneous catalysts to industrial and eco-sustainable processes. Innovative team and problem based learning approaches will be used for both classroom and laboratory sessions. The students will be organized in teams that will deal with the development of real catalysts using a problem based learning approach. The course will be structured by defining some main learning milestones, and general assessments will be periodically carried out by using an interactive presentation tool with a real-time feedback (e.g. Mentimeter).

Theoretical part: frontal classes

  • Introduction to heterogeneous catalysis

Fundamentals of catalysis. Catalytic site and fundamentals on reaction mechanism. Survey of industrial heterogeneous catalysts. Activity (TON, TOF), selectivity and stability. Examples of catalysis applied to the development of eco-sustainable and green processes or to pollution control. Catalyst requirements.

  • Catalysts preparation

Support and properties. Synthesis of supports and bulk catalysts. Precipitation, sol-gel, hydrothermal synthesis, stabilization, shaping. Zeolite synthesis. Raney Catalysts. Preparation of supported catalysts, methods of deposition and support selection: impregnation with and without interaction (incipient wetness, homogeneous precipitation, ion exchange, adsorption). Scale-up of catalysts preparation.

  • Catalyst characterization

Morphology and physical characteristics, bulk and surface characterizations, technological properties. Low temperature vapor adsorption and physisorption, porometry and fluid permeation, microscopy, spectroscopic techniques, programmed temperature techniques. Assessment of metal dispersion (e.g. TEM and chemisorption).

  • Industrial and laboratory reactors.

Experimental procedures to assess the catalytic activity and laboratory reactors. Reaction regimes and mass transport regimes in heterogeneous catalysis: criteria and experimental methods. Experimental planning of kinetic measurements. 

Laboratory trainings

  • Preparation of supported and bulk catalysts by dry and wet methods. Porosity and catalyst loading determination.
  • Catalyst characterization by electron microscopy (SEM, TEM), physisorption, permeability and infrared spectroscopy.
  • Testing of a catalyst in a gas-solid catalytic reaction or a gas-liquid-solid catalytic reaction.

The general aim of the course is to achieve an understanding of the basic catalysis and applied aspects of heterogeneous catalysis. At the end of the course students should be able to prepare and characterize, and plan how to test the catalyst. The innovative learning approach aims to improve the capacity of experimental observation, creativity, the ability to solve problems in a team working environment, to organize the experimental work in a report.


General Chemistry, Physical Chemistry (equilibrium thermodynamics), Fundamentals of kinetics

Recommended Books
  • “Engineering Catalysis”, D. Yu. Murzin, Berlin / Boston, De Gruyter, 2013
  • “The Catalytic Process from Laboratory to the Industrial Plant”, D. Sanfilippo (ed.), Milano, Maraschi, 1994. This book is available to students in the form of an article for each chapter through ScienceDirect.
  • “Principles and Practice of Heterogeneous Catalysis”, J.M.Thomas, W.J. Thomas, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH, 1996

Teaching Staff

Prof. Antonio Comite (Course Coordinator)


Lectures: 32 h
Lab works: 26 h

Grading System

Final oral exam: 60%
Laboratory reports: 40%