Nowadays, there is an urgent need for the development of sustainable processes to produce synthetic chemicals, including long-chain aliphatic hydrocarbons. Whereas current industrial processes make use of non-abundant metal catalysts and high temperatures and pressures, we have explored an alternative gas-phase synthesis using only atomic carbon and molecular hydrogen along with an inert carrier gas. This novel approach leads to the formation of micron-length fibres of unbranched alkanes, with a distribution similar to that obtained in the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis but without the need of a metal catalyst. Combining our experimental results with ab-initio calculations and steady incompressible flow simulations we have obtained full insight into the mechanism of formation of alkanes, which occurs on the surface of carbonaceous nanoparticles. The high throughput of our approach makes it promising for future alternative sustainable synthetic routes to critical alkane-based chemicals or fuels.
Full text in this link
Metal-catalyst-free gas-phase synthesis of long-chain hydrocarbons, Lidia Martínez, Pablo Merino, Gonzalo Santoro, José I. Martínez, Stergios Katsanoulis, Jesse Ault, Álvaro Mayoral, Luis Vázquez, Mario Accolla, Alexandre Dazzi, Jeremie Mathurin, Ferenc Borondics, Enrique Blázquez-Blázquez, Nitzan Shauloff, Rosa Lebrón-Aguilar, Jesús E. Quintanilla-López, Raz Jelinek, José Cernicharo, Howard A. Stone, Victor A. de la Peña O’Shea, Pedro L. de Andres, George Haller, Gary J. Ellis and José A. Martín-Gago, Nat. Comm. 12 (2021) 5937.