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Heterogeneous Catalysis (HET)


Core course in MSc Chemistry – Energy and Sustainability, elective course in MSc Chemistry - Chemical Biology

Admission requirements

BSc degree in MST. Other candidates should have a solid background in physical chemistry and catalysis.


In this course the art and science of heterogeneous catalysis will be treated. Heterogeneous catalysis is a crucial technology in modern society. Approximately 90% of all chemicals and materials around us are produced using catalysis and catalysis impacts around one-quarter of the world’s gross domestic product. The following topics will be discussed: The two common research approaches in heterogeneous catalysis; the chemical and physical processes at solid surfaces taking place during heterogeneous catalysis, e.g. adsorption, diffusion, desorption; the kinetics and thermodynamics of catalysis; the preparation of catalysts; the activity, selectivity, and stability of catalysts; and examples of industrially important heterogeneously catalyzed chemical reactions, e.g. automotive catalysis, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and hydrodesulfurization.We also visit laboratories at the LIC that are active in heterogeneous catalysis studies and directly related research. Every lecture, a new subject is introduced by a 45-minute lecture and one or two of the participants present papers from the recent scientific literature in relation to a previously discussed topic.

At the end of the course students:

  • will have knowledge of fundamental principles of heterogeneous catalysis

  • will understand physical and chemical phenomena taking place at solid surfaces during heterogeneous catalysis processes

  • will have knowledge of common methods for preparation of (model) catalysts

  • can describe the most common industrial processes involving heterogeneous catalysis

  • can describe the two common research approaches in heterogeneous catalysis

  • can solve problems regarding the kinetics and thermodynamics of heterogeneous catalysis

  • can solve problems regarding the activity, selectivity, and stability of catalysts

  • can digest and present a summary of scientific articles from the literature

Mode of instruction

Lectures, exercises, and discussion meetings


The course is based on the following book: John Meurig Thomas and W. John Thomas, Principles and Practice of Heterogeneous Catalysis, 2nd edition, Wiley 2014. In addition, articles from the primary literature are used.


Active participation in the discussions following the presentation of scientific articles and peer-review of presentations (10%)
Presentation by students (40%)
Written examination (50%)

Contact Information

Dr. I.M.N. Groot

Additional info

Presence at the lectures and discussion meetings is obligatory.