In situ reduction study of cobalt model Fischer-Tropsch synthesis catalysts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Fischer-Tropsch (FT) synthesis is an important process to manufacture hydrocarbons and oxygenated hydrocarbons from mixtures of carbon monoxide and hydrogen (syngas). The catalysis process occurs on, for example, cobalt metal surfaces at elevated temperatures and pressures. A fundamental understanding of the reduction pathway of supported cobalt oxides, and the intermediate species present during the activation, can assist in developing improved industrial supported cobalt catalysts. Hard synchrotron X-rays have the unique ability to probe atomic processes both in terms of phases present as well as the crystallographic and local structure (using the pair distribution function approach) under realistic conditions. In this manuscript we present results from measurements during in situ hydrogen activation of a model Co/alumina catalyst using in situ synchrotron X-ray powder diffraction and pair-distribution function (PDF) analysis on beam line ID31 at the ESRF in Grenoble, France. The PDF analysis showed a substantially improved understanding of the reduction of cobalt oxides, as for the first time all cobalt could be accounted for by using total scattering analysis.


  • Hester Esna du Plessis
  • Roy Peter Forbes
  • Werner Barnard
  • Willem Johannes Erasmus
  • Axel Steuwer
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Sciences
  • Natural Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11640-11645
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number28
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch