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Second Semester 
Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)
[60/69]  CHEMICAL SCIENCES [69/00 - Ord. 2019]  PERCORSO COMUNE 6 48


The student will acquire knowledge and understanding on the mechanisms of catalyzed chemical reactions as well as on the development of a solid catalyst, from preparation to characterization and final application.
The student will be able to discuss issues related to catalytic reactions, in particular referring to reaction mechanism, kinetics, catalyst choice, and correlations between structure and physico-chemical properties.


The student must have achieved a good preparation during the bachelor's degree in chemistry, with particular reference to concepts of thermodynamics, kinetics and chemical reaction engineering, dealt with in the courses of Physical Chemistry I and Industrial Chemistry, as well as to the main reaction mechanisms in Organic Chimistry.


1. Introduction. Social and economic impact of catalysis. Subject consistency (from unifying concepts: chemical structure, reactivity, kinetics, transport phenomena). Definitions (catalyst, inhibitor, activity, selectivity, stability, regenerability).
2. Catalysis in solution. Acid-base catalysis. General and specific acid (and base) catalysis. Step and concerted reactions. Conversion of hydrocarbons (carbenium ions reactions, catalytic reactions involving carbenium ions). Catalysis by electron transfer. Organometallic catalysis (examples: hydrogenation of alkenes on Wilkinson's catalyst, methanol carbonilation, olefins hydroformilation).
3. Catalysts on polymers. Nature of polymers. Catalytic groups on polymeric supports. Catalysis in polymeric gels.
4. Kinetics of heterogeneous catalytic reactions. Influence of transport phenomena.
5. Adsorption and catalysis. Catalysis is always preceded by adsorption: physical and chemical adsorption; adsorbent-adsorbate interactions and physical adsorption energy; adsorption isotherms; experimental techniques for obtaining adsorption isotherms; interpretation of the experimental isotherms from the thermodynamic (Gibbs, Henry, Hill-de Boer) and kinetic (Langmuir, Brunauer Emmet-Teller, BET) points of view. Chemical adsorption; chemical adsorption energies; dynamic considerations; chemical adsorption rates; isotherms of adsorption from kinetic considerations; Models for chemical adsorption isotherms (Langmuir, Freundlich, Temkin).
6. Adsorption and reaction on polymers. Role of the support. Bi- and multi-functional catalysis. Porous polymers. Examples of polymer-catalyzed reactions.
7. Catalysis in molecular scale cavities. Recalls on the structure of crystalline solids; structure of metals, oxides and sulphides; crystals defects. Zeolites; Adsorption and diffusion in zeolites; Catalysis on zeolites; Shape selectivity.
8. Catalysis on surfaces. Surface structure of metal oxides (silica, alumina, magnesium oxide). Catalysis on metal surfaces. Structure of adsorbed species on metal surfaces. Catalysts on supported metals. Influence of crystal size. Reactions sensitive and insensitive to the surface structure of the catalyst. Bifunctional catalysis.
9. Deactivation phenomena of heterogeneous catalysts.
10. Photocatalysis: importance of photocatalysis in the field of sustainable chemistry. Mechanism, catalysts, and reactors for photocatalytic reactions.
11. Materials and procedures for the synthesis of heterogeneous catalysts; preparation methods of supported catalysts; porous materials as catalysts and/or supports.
12. Characterization of heterogeneous catalysts. Application of the physisorption isotherms for determining surface area and pore volume. Mesoporous solids; hysteresis phenomena. Microporous solids; analysis of the isotherms of microporous materials. Mercury porosimetry for the assessment of macroporosity.
13. Characterization of heterogeneous catalysts. Spectroscopic and thermal techniques for the characterization of the bulk and the surface of solid catalysts.
14. Heterogeneus photocatalysis: mechanisms, differnt types of photocatalysts, photocatalytic reactors.
15. Case studies: CO2 chemical recycling to fuels.

The following table shows how CFUs are distributed among the various topics dealt with during the course:
Content CFU
1-3 1
4 0.25
5-6 1.25
7-9 1
10 0.25
12-13 1.25
14 0.5
15 0.5

Teaching Methods

48 hours of frontal classroom lessons, using multimedia (computer and projector) and traditional (blackboard and chalk) tools. During the lesson, the students are invited to actively participate by answering teacher questions on the current or previously presented topics.
Due to the constantly evolving pandemic situation, teaching will be provided according to the procedures indicated by the University in compliance with current anti-COVID-19 regulations.

Verification of learning

The evaluation will consist in an oral exam with questions (and related discussion) covering all the topics dealt with during the course. Due to the constantly evolving pandemic situation, exams will be held according to the procedures indicated by the University in compliance with current anti-COVID-19 regulations.
The mark, expressed in thirtieths, will be awarded on the basis of the evaluation of the answers according to the following criteria:
28-30 and praise: exposure is fluent, precise and detailed; the language is particularly appropriate; the level of knowledge of the exposed topics is always appropriate and allows to discuss with a critical spirit, highlighting the ability to correlate different aspects of the same subject or of different subjects.
25-27: exposure is clear and fluid; the language property is adequate and the knowledge is good, even if not particularly rich in detail.
22-24: exposure is clear but hesitant or repetitive, and requires teacher intervention; the language property is limited, but the knowledge is adequate, although with some uncertainty.
18-21: exposure is unclear and the teacher has to often intervene to explain or reformulate the questions; the language property is limited and the knowledge is just sufficient.
Insufficient: serious gaps in preparation; serious conceptual errors; serious difficulties in understanding the questions.


[1] B.C. Gates, “Catalytic Chemistry”, Wiley, New York, 1991.
[2] O. Levenspiel, Ingegneria delle reazioni chimiche, Ambrosiana.
[3] Coulson & Richardson’s Chemical Engineering, vol. 3 (J.F. Richardson and D.G. Peacock, eds.), Pergamon.
[4] F. Rouquerol, J. Rouquerol, “Adsorption by Powders and Porous Solids”, Academic Press,
London, 1999.
[5] J.M. Thomas, W.J. Thomas, “Principles and Practice of Heterogeneous Catalysis”, VCH,
Weinheim, 1997.
[6] M. Beller, A. Renken, and R. A. van Santen (Eds.), "Catalysis: from principles to Applications", Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany, 2012.
[7] J. W. Niemantsverdriet, "Spectroscopy in Catalysis: An Introduction", 2nd Edition, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany, 2000.
[8] Joshi and Ranade (Eds.) "Industrial Catalytic Processes for Fine and Specialty Chemicals", Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2016.
[9] J. Hagen, "Industrial Catalysis: A practical Approach", 3rd ed., Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany,

More Information

Slides of the lessons and other teaching material are provided by the teacher and/or shared year by year with attending students through Microsoft Teams .

Questionnaire and social

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