Suitable catalysts are of great importance for efficient power-to-X applications – but the molecular processes occurring during their use have not yet been fully understood.
Suitable catalysts are of great importance for efficient power-to-X applications – but the molecular processes occurring during their use have not yet been fully understood. Using X-rays from a synchrotron particle accelerator, scientists of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now been able to observe for the first time a catalyst during the Fischer-Tropsch reaction that facilitates the production of synthetic fuels under industrial conditions. It is intended to use the test results for the development of bespoke power-to-X catalysts. The team has published the results in the scientific journal Reaction & Chemical Engineering. (DOI: 10.1039/c9re00493a)
On the way to a CO2-neutral society, power-to-X processes (P2X), i.e. processes that convert renewable energy into chemical energy sources, support the interlocking of different sectors. For example, synthetic fuels can be produced from wind or solar power, enabling climate-friendly mobility and goods transport without additional greenhouse gas emissions. The Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS), which is necessary for this purpose among other things, yielding long-chain hydrocarbons for the production of petrol or diesel from carbon monoxide and hydrogen, is an established process in the chemical industry. However, even though more than one hundred years have passed since the discovery of this technology, the processes involved are still not fully understood scientifically: “This applies in particular to the structural changes in the catalysts required for the process under industrial conditions,” says Professor Jan-Dierk Grunwaldt from the Institute for Chemical Technology and Polymer Chemistry (ITCP) of KIT. “During the reaction, undesirable by-products can be formed or disruptive structural changes in the catalyst can occur. So far, it has not been explained sufficiently how this happens exactly during the reaction and what the effects on the overall process are.”
Read more at Karlsruher Institut Für Technologie (KIT)
Photo: Test setup including high-pressure cell for the Fischer-Tropsch measurement campaign using the CAT-ACT measurement line at the KIT synchrotron. (Credit: Tiziana Carambia)