Catalytic hydrogenation has diverse industrial uses. Most frequently, industrial hydrogenation relies on heterogeneous catalysts.
In petrochemical processes, hydrogenation is used to convert alkenes and aromatics into saturated alkanes (paraffins) and cycloalkanes (naphthenes), which are less toxic and less reactive. For example, mineral turpentine is usually hydrogenated. Hydrocracking of heavy residues into diesel is another application. In isomerization and catalytic reforming processes, some hydrogen pressure is maintained to hydrogenolyze coke formed on the catalyst and prevent its accumulation.
Xylitol, a polyol, is produced by hydrogenation of the sugar xylose, an aldehyde.
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“We agree fully that the mother and unborn child demand special consideration. But so does the soldier and the man maimed in industry. Industrial conditions that are suitable for a stalwart, young, unmarried woman are certainly not equally suitable to the pregnant woman or the mother of young children. Yet welfare laws apply to all women alike. Such blanket legislation is as absurd as fixing industrial conditions for men on a basis of their all being wounded soldiers would be.”
—National Womans Party, quoted in Everyone Was Brave. As, ch. 8, by William L. ONeill (1969)