top of page

Formulation of a new generation of nickel-based catalyst (valorization of a residue from titanium metallurgy)



A new nickel-based catalyst was developed with a view to upgrading the UGSO residue from the plant of a titanium dioxide manufacturer in Sorel-Tracy. This new generation of catalysts will be able to replace nickel-based catalysts currently available on the market used, among other things, for the production of hydrogen.


This invention is part of a very favorable context because there is a current enthusiasm for sustainable development and the implementation of clean technologies. In fact, the production of hydrogen (H2), a vector of sustainable development both in terms of materials and energy, is intimately linked to catalysts. Moreover, the use of catalysts follows an increasing trend. As an indication, in 2012, the use of catalysts in the oil sector represented a figure of US$5.6 billion (for a world market of US$16 billion), including $320 million for reforming catalysts. In 2016, this same market was measured at US$6.60 billion and is expected to reach US$7.98 billion in 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 3.2% between 2017 and 2022.


The invention consists of a new product with high added value, the Ni-UGSO catalyst, and a method for transforming the UGSO residue into a Ni-UGSO catalyst. This method is an improvement to the spinellization process. Here is the outline of the overall process:


  • Ni-UGSO preparation process: a quantity of Nickel (Ni), via a precursor, is added to a mass of mining residue (UGSO) and to a binder. The mixture of reactive elements is then subjected to heat treatment.

  • The Ni-UGSO obtained can be used, among other things, as a catalyst in reforming processes. The catalytic mass is deposited in a heated fixed bed reactor. Les  reagents whose flow rates are adjusted beforehand, react more quickly in the presence of the catalyst thus giving a synthesis gas rich in H2.

  • Regeneration of catalysts: calcination in an oxidizing atmosphere allows the catalyst to regain its initial structure


H2 production results with the new lab-scale Ni-UGSO catalyst demonstrate similar performance to synthetic catalysts currently on the market at a fraction of the cost of the latter (approximately 50% cheaper). The association with a partner manufacturer of catalytic granules is therefore envisaged with a view to optimizing the shape intended for industrial applications.


  • Cost and efficiency: 50% of the cost of the nearest competitor while performing as well or better.

  • Market share: all the tonnage of the UGSO residue would make it possible to fill 17% of the world market in H2

  • Increased catalyst life and regenerability: Bench-scale results to date have shown that the catalyst is stable and can be easily regenerated by oxidation.

  • Excellent activity: leading to a conversion very close to equilibrium with a short residence time;

  • Low steam to carbon ratio observed

- Valorization of a residue currently disposed in the park.
- The proof of concept is done.
- Residues unique to this Sorel-Tracy titanium dioxide manufacturer
- Products with high added value.
- Growth of the global catalyst market.

The new nickel-based catalyst can be used in various processes currently using synthetic nickel-based catalysts, namely:

  • Syngas or hydrogen production processes (from natural gas or other hydrocarbons by dry reforming (DR: dry reforming), steam reforming (SR: steam reforming), partial oxidation (POX: partial oxidation), reforming autotherm (ATR: Autothermal reforming), reforming of pyolytic oils).

  • Any other industry requiring more efficient and competitive nickel-based catalysts (or other active metals) (e.g. oil refining, hydrotreating, hydrodesulfurization, hydrodenitrification, isomerization, hydrodeoxygenation, hydrodemetallization, hydrocracking, selective oxidation).


Project Director: Josianne Vigneault

bottom of page