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Among the most important applications of catalyst technologies are meeting rising energy requirements and protecting the environment. Broadly speaking, a catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction by reducing the required activation energy, but which is left unchanged by the reaction.
The petroleum industry is the largest single user of catalysts, especially in producing refined products such as gasoline and diesel fuel. Catalysts also contribute to increasing the supply of petroleum by making it commercially possible to produce oil from sources once regarded as uneconomical, such as tar sands and heavy oil deposits. Catalysts are also being used to produce increasing quantities of synthetic oil and gas from coal and oil shale.
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