Catalysis with Polymeric Resins

Typical Catalytic Reactions

Ion exchange resins are widely used as heterogeneous catalysts. They are often used to replace homogenous catalysts such as sulfuric acid or Lewis acids. Resin catalysts are applied since they

  • can be easily separated from the solution and allow an easier recovery of the product
  • reduce manufacturing cost
  • can be reused many times
  • are often more selective compared to homogeneous catalysts generating less byproducts
  • are much less corrosive
  • easier to handle
  • ecologically friendly, low CO2 footprint


CHEMRA catalyst resins are used in many applications in the chemical and petrochemical industries to produce MTBE or ETBE, MIBK, various phenol alkylates, bisphenol-A, some acrylic and fatty acid esters and isopropyl alcohol (IPA).

Both, micro- (gel) and macroporous types of resin catalysts are used, depending on the size of molecule to be catalyzed and the polarity of the media.

Most of the catalytic reactions with polymeric catalysts are carried out with strongly acid resin catalysts. In some reactions such as phenol alkylation water must not be present. TREVERLYST catalysts can be provided in the dry form.

Catalytic reactions

Olefin reactions with Water Others
Isomerisation Etherification Transetherification
Polymerisation Esterification of alcohols and phenol Transetherification
Aromatic Alkylation Alkylation with alcohols Decomposition of hydroperoxydes
Acrylation Condensation of aldehydes, acetone and phenol Von Pechman reaction
Mercaptan addition Condensation Lactone formation
Aldol condensation Dimerization and polymerisation of alcohols Knoevenagel reaction
Hydration Cyanoethylation Fries rearrangement