Providing fundamental and applied insights into Fischer-Tropsch catalysis: Sasol-Eindhoven University of Technology collaboration

Jan van de Loosdrecht (Corresponding author), Ionel M. Ciobîca, Philip Gibson, N. S. Govender, Denzil J. Moodley, Abdool M. Saib, C. J. Weststrate, J.W. Niemantsverdriet

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    Although Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS) was discovered more than 90 years ago, it remains a fascinating topic, having relevance from both an industrial and academic perspective. FTS based on cobalt and iron catalysts was studied in depth during an extensive 15-year collaboration between Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, and Sasol, South Africa. The primary objective of the collaboration was to obtain fundamental information that could assist in understanding practical issues in FTS over iron and cobalt catalysts. For iron-based catalysts, industrial slurry reactor work was combined with SSITKA and DFT modeling, resulting in improved clarity, with respect to the kinetics and mechanisms of FTS. This knowledge is important, with respect to designing large-scale industrial processes. In the case of cobalt-based FTS research, the combination of commercially relevant supported cobalt catalysts with sophisticated characterization tools, as well as the application of flat model catalyst systems, has led to significantly improved knowledge of deactivation mechanisms. This improved knowledge has assisted in the understanding of new catalysts systems and regeneration processes. Finally, the success of the collaboration has been due to many factors. It has been beneficial to both parties to have had a long-term collaboration, in which important fundamental catalysis topics were investigated that often took a substantial period of time. The access to high-quality modeling and characterization tools and fundamental understanding, as well as industrially relevant supported catalysts operated under realistic conditions, has proved vital in our contribution toward the advancement of the science and technology of FTS.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3840-3855
    Number of pages16
    JournalACS Catalysis
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2016


    • cobalt
    • collaboration
    • Fischer-Tropsch
    • iron
    • surface science


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