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All you need to know about Molybdenum in catalyst

All you need to know about Molybdenum in catalyst


Written by: Ritesh Trivedi

Want To Know More About Molybdenum In Catalyst? Read On!

Most people will use a range of things in their daily life, but not actually know or realise how those things come to them. For instance, something as simple as petrol or diesel, which is used to fuel our cars and scooters – we all tend to take it for granted; because very few of us have the knowledge of how the petroleum derived from underground reaches as fuel for our cars and how important a role something known as molybdenum plays in it.

Petroleum, that is mined from underground reserves, has to undergo a purification process before it can be used as fuel and for the process a chemical named Molybdenum, commonly referred to as moly, is used. To gain a better understanding of how molybdenum is utilised, it is imperative to gain a basic understanding of what molybdenum is and how it is used as a catalyst.

What is molybdenum?

The name molybdenum is derived from the Neo-Latin word molybdaenum and Greek word molybdos, which meant lead. This was so, because the ores of molybdenum were often confused with lead ores. Molybdenum is not a base metal, because it does not occur naturally; rather in various states of oxidation in other minerals. This silvery metal has the sixth highest melting point, 2600*C, which means that it is able to withstand extremely high temperatures. Molybdenum also has superior electrical conductivity, making this an extremely valuable metal. About 14% of the molybdenum produced in the entire world is used in applications where it might have to be subjected to high pressure or high temperature, namely as catalysts or as pigments. Here are some of the other common uses:

  • Molybdenum is often used in steel alloys to help increase the hardness and strength. It also improves the electrical conductivity and makes the alloy more resistant to corrosion.
  • Molybdenum disulfide is often added to lubricants that is used for factory machines. The same is used in the manufacture for inks that are used in circuit boards and electrodes.

What is the market share of molybdenum?

Since molybdenum is not a major metal, the reserves of the same are limited and the Asia Pacific region (not including Japan) are the dominant market share holders, because even though there are reserves in European countries like Norway, Europe is one of the biggest consumers of molybdenum. In the years to come, it has been projected that China, India and Thailand will have the largest resources of moly, for global consumption and Molybdenum chemicals manufacturer in India such as Rubamin will have a vital role to play here.

What is a catalyst?

The process of a chemical reaction can be increased by the addition of something known as a catalyst – because the catalyst cannot be consumed during the reaction, it can be utilised over and over again. This is one of the reasons why, very often, small amounts of catalysts are more than enough and once their efficacy starts to reduce, catalyst recycling can be done to generate more of the same.

Molybdenum as a catalyst

With a proper understanding of what molybdenum is and what the role of a catalyst is, we can begin to look at the role of molybdenum as a catalyst. Molybdenum, when combined with certain other elements, can not only speed up the chemical reaction, but it can also ensure specific outcomes.

Sulfided Co-Mo or Ni-Mo on alumina often find application in processes such as hydrotreating and hydrodesulfurisation. These processes are most commonly used to remove sulfur from crude oil, which is why molybdenum as a catalyst has a very important role to play in the oil and petroleum refining industry. The molybdenum is often supported on alumina or tungsten and can be promoted by either cobalt or nickel. For the longest time, low sulfur crudes were used to refine crude oil, however this proved to be extremely harmful for the environment. Molybdenum based catalysts not only drastically reduce the sulphur content, but also allow for cleaner fuels.

There are several reasons why molybdenum is rising in popularity:

  • Molybdenum is perhaps one of the most cost effective option in crude oil refining
  • Because the sulfur emissions are much lower, it is also the better option for the environment
  • Molybdenum based catalysts are also resistant to sulfur poisoning, ensuring the safety of precious metal catalysts
  • Molybdenum based catalysts can also be used to convert coal in to hydrocarbon liquids
  • As is with many catalysts, molybdenum too cannot be spent completely, which means that it can be reused

What happens with the spent catalyst?

A catalyst such as molybdenum is extremely potent in the manner that it cannot be completely spent – it can be used over and over again. However, the potency of the catalyst will start to reduce over time and the efficacy will also be greatly reduce. At such a time, the existing catalyst will have to be replaced with fresh one, but the spent catalyst continues to have its use. It is also important to note that this spent catalyst is an environmental hazard and needs to be handled with extreme care. However, even spent catalyst can contain anywhere between 10 to 20% of molybdenum and when treated properly, it can give more molybdenum.

Catalyst recycling companies such as Rubamin have successfully achieved zero solid and liquid waste recycling, ensuring that they are doing their bit for the environment. The procedures adopted by them not only ensure safety for the environment, but also complete recovery of all metal values too. The spent catalyst which is hazardous in nature, is converted into a highly pure form of molybdenum and this can be used all over again to create new catalyst. This life cycle ensures that there is zero waste and there is always availability of new catalyst, as per industry standards.

At Rubamin, the highly trained and experienced team has been able to successfully give birth to technology that ascertains that there is no waste to be dumped into landfills and whatever waste energy is generated during the recycling process is utilised to provide power to operations downstream, further reducing the ecological impact. Rubamin also aims at helping refineries completely eliminate the impact that the end of the life of these products could cause, because every element possible is recovered from the spent catalyst, ensuring a more sustainable chemical industry.

What about sustainability and environment?

Since long, spent catalysts, that are often generated in large quantities were considered as waste; however, these cannot be disposed off like regular waste, as these can be quite hazardous in nature. The combustion of the sulfur compounds lead to oxidisation and formation of sulfur dioxide, which resulted in what is commonly known as acid rain.

Over time, several regulations were put into place regarding how the spent catalyst could be disposed. When studies revealed that from the spent catalysts, large quantities of molybdenum could still be recovered, it became a part of the norm; especially because naturally occurring molybdenum is quite rare and there is already a projected shortage in the near future. By recycling the spent catalyst, Rubamin is able to ensure that not even the minutest amount of molybdenum goes wasted, while also ascertaining a steady and assured flow of fresh catalyst, without having to resort to mining.

Molybdenum is perhaps one of the most sustainable options because not only is it cost efficient, it will leave a smaller carbon footprint and can ensure better environmental protection in the long run. And it is quite clear that only the most sustainable chemical companies will be able to survive in the long run. Today, they offer products including:

  • Ammonium Di Molybdate
  • Ammonium Hepta Molybdate
  • Cobalt Sulphate
  • Sodium Molybdate

If you have any doubts or queries related to moly, please feel free to contact us or write us and our experts will get in touch with you!