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Catalyst have been used by human mankind for over 2000 years, it wasnt until 1835 that Berzelius suggested that small amounts of a foreign source could greatly affect the course of chemical reaction, this mysterious force attributed to the substance was called catalyst. In 1894, Oswald expanded Berzelius explanation by stating that catalysts were substances that accelerate the rate of chemical reactions without being consumed. In over 150 years since Berzelius work, catalysts have come to play a major economic role in the world market. In the United States alone , sales of process catalysts in 1996 were over $1 billion, the major uses being in petroleum refining and in chemical production. Commercial chemical catalyst are immensely important. Approximately one-third of the material gross national product of the United States involves catalytic process ,some where between raw material and finished product yield and selectivity from chemical reactions. The development and use of catalysts is a major part of the constant search for new ways of increasing product yield and selectivity from chemical reactions. Because a catalyst makes it possible to obtain an end product by a different pathway it can use both the yield and the selectivity. The existence of a great number of catalysts, individual in nature and occurring in various forms, indicates the variety and extent of catalytic process now known, as well as those potentially possible. Also, one and the same reaction may be catalyzed ( accelerated or directed ) by various catalysts. Purdue engineers, using heat seeking missile technology, have developed an instrument that dramatically speeds up the search for new catalysts that could improve chemical manufacturing process and automotive pollution control systems .The system, a novel application of infrared imaging, is detailed in an article in the May/June issue of the Journal of Combinatorial chemistry, published by the American Chemical Society. The paper, which is the first to describe the system, appeared originally in the online version of the publication on March 15.This instrument is used to analyze ten thousands of chemical samples in about the same amount of time it would have taken to test one sample with more conventional methods. The new system developed at Purdue can create vast databases of chemical catalysts. The Catalyst databases provide hundreds of thousands of potential lead compounds, accessed through Catalyst?s advanced information retrieval, analysis, and simulation capabilities.

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