Report

Supported Iron Nanoparticles as Catalysts for Sustainable Production of Lower Olefins

Science  17 Feb 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6070, pp. 835-838
DOI: 10.1126/science.1215614

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Abstract

Lower olefins are key building blocks for the manufacture of plastics, cosmetics, and drugs. Traditionally, olefins with two to four carbons are produced by steam cracking of crude oil–derived naphtha, but there is a pressing need for alternative feedstocks and processes in view of supply limitations and of environmental issues. Although the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis has long offered a means to convert coal, biomass, and natural gas into hydrocarbon derivatives through the intermediacy of synthesis gas (a mixture of molecular hydrogen and carbon monoxide), selectivity toward lower olefins tends to be low. We report on the conversion of synthesis gas to C2 through C4 olefins with selectivity up to 60 weight percent, using catalysts that constitute iron nanoparticles (promoted by sulfur plus sodium) homogeneously dispersed on weakly interactive α-alumina or carbon nanofiber supports.

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