Recent developments in the application of nanomaterials to understanding molecular level processes in cobalt catalysed Fischer–Tropsch synthesis
This perspective offers an overview of using nanomaterials for understanding cobalt catalysed Fischer–Tropsch chemistry. Nanomaterials now afford unprecedented control of size, shape and structure at the nanometre scale. This makes them invaluable tools for studying heterogeneous catalysis. The Fischer–Tropsch reaction, especially using cobalt based catalysts, is a linchpin in many processes for utilising other feedstocks (via gasification) that have been envisaged as short/medium term replacements for crude oil. The underlying chemistry has therefore garnered considerable renewed interest. The current state of the art in mechanistic understanding is summarised and the application of nanomaterials to developing this further is explored. Several specific questions, to which nanomaterials have already contributed answers, are addressed: how do nanomaterials contribute to our understanding of cobalt particle size effects, reducibility, and the effect of support porosity and how do precious metal promoters operate in cobalt catalysed Fischer–Tropsch chemistry? Future possible uses for nanomaterials in studying this field are also identified.