Heterogeneous Catalysis: Some Recent Developments

Science  18 Feb 1977:
Vol. 195, Issue 4279, pp. 641-646
DOI: 10.1126/science.195.4279.641


In recent years major progress has been made in the area of heterogeneous catalysis by metals. Much has been learned about the nature of metal catalysts and of catalytic phenomena on metals. Characteristic patterns of catalytic behavior among the metallic elements have been established for certain classes of reactions, and these patterns provide a first step toward a more comprehensive understanding of catalytic specificity. Studies on metal alloys and related bimetallic catalysts have revived interest in a geometric factor in surface catalysis to complement the traditional electronic factor. Closely related to this geometric factor is the discovery that selectivity, rather than activity alone, is a major factor in reactions on bimetallic catalysts.

Concurrent with progress in understanding how catalysts work, advances are also being made in the development of new catalyst systems, examples of which are the bimetallic (or polymetallic) cluster catalysts. Research in this area provides an example of how advances in catalyst technology can be realized within a framework of fundamental research on catalytic phenomena (38).