This tutorial review intends to show the possibilities of in situ solid state NMR spectroscopy in the elucidation of reaction mechanisms and the nature of the active sites in heterogeneous catalysis. After a brief overview of the more usual experimental devices used for in situ solid state NMR spectroscopy measurements, some examples of applications taken from the recent literature will be presented. It will be shown that in situ NMR spectroscopy allows: (i) the identification of stable intermediates and transient species using indirect methods, (ii) to prove shape selectivity in zeolites, (iii) the study of reaction kinetics, and (iv) the determination of the nature and the role played by the active sites in a catalytic reaction. The approaches and methodology used to get this information will be illustrated here summarizing the most relevant contributions on the investigation of the mechanisms of a series of reactions of industrial interest: aromatization of alkanes on bifunctional catalysts, carbonylation reaction of methanol with carbon monoxide, ethylbenzene disproportionation, and the Beckmann rearrangement reaction. Special attention is paid to the research carried out on the role played by carbenium ions and alkoxy as intermediate species in the transformation of hydrocarbon molecules on solid acid catalysts.
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