Laboratory of Catalysis and Catalytic Processes

The Laboratory of Catalysis and Catalytic Processes (LCCP) is a research group at Department of Energy of Politecnico di Milano that has pioneered multidisciplinary research in the science and engineering of heterogeneous catalysis. In the last decades the research activity of the group has gradually expanded from applications in industrial chemical processes to novel fields associated with energy conversion, environmental protection and sustainable production of chemicals. The mission of LCCP is the education of students via relevant research in the multidisciplinary field of catalysis science, spanning from fundamental research to industrial applications, with a strong connection with the industrial world and world-leading universities and research centers.

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The LCCP was established in the Department of Chemistry, Materials and Chemical Engineering in early ‘70, under the guide of professor Pio Forzatti.
Since 2003, after a severe selection, LCCP is member of NEMAS (NanoEngineered MAterials and Surfaces center) a network of labs at Politecnico di Milano which has been funded by the Italian Government as a centre of excellence devoted to the design, production, study and application of micro and nanostructured materials and surfaces.
In 2003 LCCP joined EUROKIN, a consortium of industrial and academic members founded in 1998, whose aim is the implementation of best practice in the area of chemical reaction kinetics, particularly in the industrial environment.
In 2005- 2010 LCCP was a member of IDECAT (Integrated DEsign of CATalytic Nanomaterials for Sustainable Production) a network of excellence of 37 laboratories from 17 Institutions in Europe, which is funded by EU with the target to create a coherent framework of research, know-how and training between the various catalysis communities (heterogeneous, homogeneous, bio-catalysis) with the objective of achieving a lasting integration between the main European Institutions in the area.
In 2007 an international peer review process of the research groups of Politecnico di Milano has evaluated LCCP as follows: “Grade 4/4. This is widely recognised as an outstanding research group”.
Since 2008 the LCCP is part of the Department of Energy of Politecnico di Milano.

Starting from a broad background on heterogeneous catalysis and chemical reaction engineering the LCCP developed a comprehensive multidisciplinary multiscale approach. This approach starts from the control of the catalyst properties at the nanoscale level (active sites and porosity) achieved by adequate preparation and characterization techniques (morphological, structural, bulk and surface physico-chemical characterization) and combines such control with surface reactivity/mechanism/kinetics studies performed under steady state and transient conditions. To obtain a more comprehensive and complementary picture such investigations are coupled with surface characterization by ex-situ and in-situ techniques at a molecular level performed through collaboration with other research groups with specific expertise.
At the microscale level LCCP has developed a deep knowledge in the techniques for the preparation of both powdered and structured catalysts. In the former case, LCCP has a strong expertise in conventional methods such as impregnation (dry and wet) and coprecipitation; in the latter case, LCCP developed techniques both for the production of bulk structured catalysts (by extrusion of ceramic honeycombs) and for the deposition (by washcoating, percolation, spraying) of active catalyst layers with controlled porosity and good adhesion properties onto structured supports of different geometries (honeycomb, foams, clothes, slabs) and materials (ceramic and metallic).
From a theoretical point of view LCCP has devoted considerable efforts to the assessment of heat, mass and momentum transfer properties of the structured catalysts which are governed by the peculiar geometrical and hydrodynamics features at the millimeter and sub-millimeter scale. In order to cope with the applied focus of its research activity, the background acquired on the characteristic phenomena at the nano- and the macro-scale is finalized to experimental and modeling studies at the reactor scale. LCCP has a wide capability of testing catalytic reactors ranging from small laboratory to pilot scale covering operating conditions up to 1000°C and 100bar, including structured catalytic reactors for kinetic measurement in short contact time reactions able to cope with the extremely fast and very exothermic reactions characteristics of such processes. LCCP has also a wide experience in the development and use of steady state and transient mathematical models, implementing advanced numerical methods, complex kinetics and detailed description of transport phenomena at the different levels of scale.
LCCP has applied such multiscale, multidisciplinary approach to a wide spectrum of catalytic applications which cover energy conversion processes for fixed and mobile uses ranging from upstream treatment and production of fuels to novel combustion technologies and downstream after-treatment of the exhausts. In the field of the upstream processes the group has investigated the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis for production of diesel fuel, and the short contact time catalytic partial oxidation of hydrocarbons for fuel reforming and H2 production.
Concerning the core of energy conversion processes LCCP is active since more than a decade in the field of catalytic combustion for gas turbines with ultra-low single digit emissions. A wide range of processes have been addressed in the field of the exhausts after-treatment, which cover different applications and type of emissions. The group has a strong background on the SCR DeNOx process for fixed power plants which has been more recently re-focused on mobile applications. LCCP has also widely investigated other DeNOx technologies such as the NOx storage-reduction systems for the abatement of NOx emissions from lean gasoline and diesel engines and has recently studied the simultaneous abatement of NOx and soot emissions along the DNPR concept. Finally starting from its background on catalytic combustion the group is investigating the abatement of CH4 emissions from compressed natural gas engines.
The knowledge acquired in the field of structured catalysts has been applied to development of novel catalytic reactors for sustainable production. Indeed appropriate design of the regular geometry of structured catalysts offers the possibility of tuning gas-solid and intraparticle diffusion and to achieve a quite effective dissipation of reaction heat through a conductive mechanism while maintaining very limited pressure drops.

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