CC BY 4.0 · Pharmaceutical Fronts 2020; 02(03): e117-e127
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1722219
Review Article

Another Critical Look at Three-Phase Catalysis

Xiong-Wei Ni
1  School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, Division of Chemical Engineering, Heriot–Watt University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
› Author Affiliations
Funding None.


Three-phase catalysis, for example, hydrogenation, is a special branch of chemical reactions involving a hydrogen reactant (gas) and a solvent (liquid) in the presence of a metal porous catalyst (solid) to produce a liquid product. Currently, many reactors are being used for three-phase catalysis from packed bed to slurry vessel; the uniqueness for this type of reaction in countless processes is the requirement of transferring gas into liquid, as yet there is not a unified system of quantifying and comparing reactor performances. This article reviews current methodologies in carrying out such heterogeneous catalysis in different reactors and focuses on how to enhance reactor performance from gas transfer perspectives. This article also suggests that the mass transfer rate over energy dissipation may represent a fairer method for comparison of reactor performance accounting for different types/designs of reactors and catalyst structures as well as operating conditions.

Publication History

Received: 23 October 2020

Accepted: 03 December 2020

Publication Date:
31 December 2020 (online)

© 2020. The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, permitting unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction so long as the original work is properly cited. (

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