Nature Energy | 2019
Fuels and energy carriers from single-site catalysts prepared via surface organometallic chemistry
The petrochemical industry relies on catalysts for hydrocarbon conversions that often contain ill-defined active metal sites, hampering rational improvement. Surface organometallic chemistry (SOMC) has enabled the design of catalysts with tailored metal sites, often referred to as single sites. In this Perspective, I consider how SOMC has opened routes to synthesis of fuels and energy carriers not possible via traditional approaches and led to the discovery of alkane homologation processes, by giving access to a large proportion of low coordinated and highly reactive surface sites. While challenges lie ahead, particularly with respect to the improvement of catalyst activity and lifetime, as well as further control and characterization of active/surface site structure, SOMC is effective for increasing molecular level understanding of catalytic events as found in related industrial systems. Furthermore, single-site catalysts can also be used to provide molecular level precision in complex systems such as supported nanoparticles where dopant and support effects are ubiquitous, but poorly understood.Industrial hydrocarbon conversions often use catalysts with ill-defined active metal sites, which may hamper rational improvement. This Perspective explores how surface organometallic chemistry can allow the design of catalysts with more well-defined active sites for the production of energy carriers.