Fischer Tropsch catalysis is an important enabling technology that is likely to increase in importance as fossil fuels become less economically attractive. de Jong and colleagues from Delft, DOW and Utrecht have now improved the performance of iron based catalysts towards the synthesis of lower molecular weight olefins by distributing the iron on a weakly interacting support. The surface science of this catalysts will be fascinating – how does the iron/support interaction affect the catalysis. What is the active material, de Jong suggest its an iron carbide. Their work should give us a new way of looking at FT catalysts.
Science 17 February 2012: Vol. 335 no. 6070 pp. 835-838