Most chemical syntheses and processes usually require at least one catalytic step. Catalysts increase the reaction rate and thus make lots of industrial processes feasible and economical. In addition, chemical reactions with catalysts can often be performed efficiently at significantly lower temperatures, which not only saves energy costs but also has a positive effect on the environment (less energy consumption).
Many catalysts are heterogenous catalysts – meaning the catalytic metal is in a solid form and supported on carrier material (e.g. alumina or carbon) while the reactants are mostly gaseous and interact with the catalyst.