Y professor chairs international catalyst symposiu

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    By BESS HARVEY

    A BYU professor is headed to Cancun, Mexico as the chair of the International Symposium on Catalyst Deactivation.

    Calvin H. Bartholomew, professor of chemical engineering, became involved with the international symposium in 1978 when he gave a paper at Berkeley.

    “The meeting occurs every three years in Europe and North America,” Bartholomew said. “This this is the second one I have been involved in.”

    Barthlomew said he is expecting at least 200 people at the symposium this year.

    “At the meeting we will be discussing methods for preventing catalyst deactivation, and the design of processes to minimize it,” he said.

    Catalyst deactivation studies the process by which catalysts slowly lose their effectiveness.

    According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary a catalyst is a person or thing acting as the stimulus in bringing about or hastening a result.

    William C. Hecker, associate professor of chemical engineering said, “theoretically a catalyst should last forever but in reality it wears out from being day in and day out.”

    Hecker said catalysts collect three problems, coking, poisoning and thermal centering. After being exposed to high temperatures the catalyst start to melt and it becomes deactivated.

    “Catalyst deactivation affects all aspects of life,” said Gustauvo Fuentes, professor of chemical engineering at the Metropolitan University of Mexico City. “A significant part of the attendance at this symposium comes from industries such as auto, petroleum, catalyst companies and environmental groups.”

    Fuentes said the symposium is designed to show progress in research.

    “The people at this symposium will present advances in research on catalyst deactivation,” he said.

    “Worldwide $5 billion are spent on catalyst replacement and we would like to make these processes more economical,” Barthlomew said. “We would also like to make the process more kind and friendly toward the catalyst.”

    One area that will soon require these improvements are catalytic converters on automobiles.

    Hecker said that the new clean air amendments are going to require that catalytic converters are greatly improved.

    “The original goal of catalytic converters was to reduce the pollutants by 80 percent. Now the new legislation is forcing 95 percent to 99 percent,” Hecker said.

    In addition to making them cleaner they will also have to be more efficient Bartholomew said.

    “We also have to make the converters last for 100,000 miles instead of 50,000 like they are now,” Bartholomew said.

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