Jorge Gascon (TUD): Article in Nature Communications
The growing concerns about oil depletion have spurred worldwide interest in finding alternative feedstocks for important petrochemical commodities and fuels. Among these commodities, lower olefins are key building blocks for the manufacture of plastics, cosmetics, and drugs. One way of achieving the synthesis of these important chemicals is through Fischer-Tropsch synthesis using highly abundant iron based catalyst. However, traditional synthesis methods for the preparation of these catalysts usually lead to fast deactivation under reaction conditions because of the inhomogeneous Fe particle size distribution. This long-standing challenge has been addressed successfully through a unique collaboration between Catalysis Engineering section (ChemE, TUDelft), The Dow Chemical Company, University College London and University of Cadiz researchers that led to an innovative new method of synthesizing highly stable and active iron based Fischer-Tropsch catalysts.
The new method relies on the use of a Metal Organic Framework (MOF) as precursor for the synthesis of regular iron nanoparticles encapsulated in a graphitic matrix. In spite of high Fe loadings that can be realized through this preparation method, the high dispersion of the metal phase and its encapsulation in a highly porous carbon matrix result in an unrivalled activity and exceptional stability. When compared with commercial catalysts, the MOF derived solids display productivities, on a total catalyst weight basis, one order of magnitude higher than these benchmarks, even when the MOF based catalysts contain less iron. This simple and potentially universal design strategy opens the door to the controlled manufacture of highly dispersed and stable metal nanoparticles in porous matrices, one of the major challenges in materials science and industrial catalysis.
A detailed technical article discussing this research has been published in the last issue of Nature Communications:
V.P. Santos, T.A. Wezendonk, J.J. Delgado Jaén, A. I. Dugulan, M. A. Nasalevich, H.U. Islam, A. Chojecki, S. Sartipi, X. Sun, A.A. Hakeem, A.C.J. Koeken, M. Ruitenbeek, T. Davidian, G. R. Meima, G. Sankar, F. Kapteijn, M. Makkee and J. Gascon. Metal Organic Framework mediated synthesis of highly stable and active Fischer-Tropsch catalysts. Nature Commun. (2015) doi: 10.1038/ncomms7451