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- 03/29/2022

DCAT WEEK 2022 INTERVIEW: Valeria Astuni, Executive Account Manager and Hans Donkervoort, General Manager Precious Metal Powder Catalysts, BASF

Chimica Oggi-Chemistry Today
Valeria Astuni

Valeria Astuni is responsible for sales of heterogeneous precious metal and base metal catalysts to the pharmaceutical, agrochemical and fine chemical industries in EMEA. She also has a new business development role in the USA, and serves as Key Account Manager for various major pharma accounts globally.

Staying in the loop with catalysts

Highlights from our discussion with Valeria Astuni, Executive Account Manager, BASF, and Hans Donkervoort, General Manager Precious Metal Powder Catalysts, BASF


Against a backdrop of rising global health standards and growing demand for pharmaceutical products, global factors have driven a trend towards on-shoring and even higher demand for flexibility. BASF Catalysts has long been positioned globally while offering regional catalyst manufacturing and technical support across the globe. This kind of flexibility is important in a world where regionalized manufacturing and domestic sourcing is growing and, for BASF’s Precious Metal Powder Catalysts, the timing could not be better, as they see unprecedented demand for specialised catalysts in pharma.

Catalytic upsurge

Analysts predict steady growth for the catalyst industry over the next few years, driven in part by growing demand from the pharma industry as (specialized) catalysts are required in so many pharma production steps. Adding to this demand is the fact that more and more specialized drugs are being developed, which require special catalysts in industrial production.

Hans Donkervoort

Hans Donkervoort is globally responsible for the precious metal powder catalyst business at BASF. With a PhD in the field of catalysis, Hans has held various positions in Research and Development, sales, marketing, and product management at BASF.

Having said that, these higher demands need to be met with more sustainable production standards, and BASF is seeing a strong push by the pharmaceutical industry in this direction.  Catalytic processes are generally sustainable already. This is why, for example, there is growing demand for changing processes that require stoichiometric reagents to catalytic processes.

In the loop

The concept of circularity of metals used in catalysts has been in place for many decades.  For base metals like nickel, for example, several companies offer base metal reclaiming services.

For precious metals, BASF offers the ‘full loop’ concept; any customer requiring a catalyst containing precious metals can obtain the precious metals, fresh catalyst, and reclaiming services for the precious metal on the used catalyst. BASF encourages this process with supportive financial model, and manufacturing technologies that produce highly efficient and selective catalysts using as little precious metal as possible. Finally, after using the catalyst, the customer can send the used catalyst back to BASF where the precious metal is reclaimed from the catalyst.

Having this full loop available is allowing BASF’s customers to use high value precious metals in the most economical way. It is a good example of the circular economy, where sustainability partners with cost efficiency.

The biggest challenge

Climate change is probably the biggest challenge of our time. BASF has targets to become more efficient in production processes and to reduce energy usage, as well as accelerating the development and implementation of new CO2 free processes. BASF is committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% in 2030, and to reach Net Zero by 2050.

Catalysts and/or catalytic processes play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions. Last year, BASF introduced its GREEn technology platform, which comprises an excellent portfolio of precious metal powder catalysts. The GREEn precious metal powder catalysts deliver high active and selective catalysts while reducing the amount of precious metal required. The lower amount of metal required allows customers to reduce cost by several millions of Euros per MT of catalyst used, and equally important it reduces CO2 emissions by multiple hundreds of Mt per Mt of catalyst used. For example, one customer could replace a standard 5% Rh on carbon powder catalyst with a GREEn 5% Rh on carbon powder catalyst having more leaching resistant characteristics. This GREEn catalyst delivered per Mt of catalyst used a CO2 emission reduction of 240Mt and a cost reduction of €2 million.


DCAT Week is the premier global event held annually in New York City for companies engaged in the Bio/Pharmaceutical manufacturing value chain. It is hosted by the Drug, Chemical & Associated Technologies Association (DCAT), a not-for-profit, corporate member-supported, and volunteer-led global business development association for companies engaged in the Bio/Pharmaceutical manufacturing value chain. Learn more at