Proxy-based accelerated discovery of Fischer–Tropsch catalysts†
Development of heterogeneous catalysts for complex reactions such as Fischer–Tropsch synthesis of fuels is hampered by difficult reaction conditions, slow characterisation techniques such as chemisorption and temperature-programmed reduction and the need for long term stability. High-throughput (HT) methods may help, but their use has until now focused on bespoke micro-reactors for direct measurements of activity and selectivity. These are specific to individual reactions and do not provide more fundamental information on the materials. Here we report using simpler HT characterisation techniques (XRD and TGA) along with ageing under Fischer–Tropsch reaction conditions to provide information analogous to metal surface area, degree of reduction and thousands of hours of stability testing time for hundreds of samples per month. The use of this method allowed the identification of a series of highly stable, high surface area catalysts promoted by Mg and Ru. In an advance over traditional multichannel HT reactors, the chemical and structural information we obtain on the materials allows us to identify the structural effects of the promoters and their effects on the modes of deactivation observed.