Direct conversion of synthesis gas to aromatics
Aromatics are key chemical intermediates and are also present in transportation fuels in particular gasoline. With the advent of alternative feedstocks such as natural gas, shale gas, biomass and the like, conversion of these feedstocks via synthesis gas (a mixture of CO and H2) towards aromatics  and lower olefins  is desirable. These may geared towards specific aromatics such as para-xylene for polymers or mixtures of aromatics for fuels. Previously, direct conversion of synthesis gas to aromatics has involved several approaches based on combinations of methanol synthesis and acid catalysts  and on Fischer Tropsch (FT) combined with acid catalysts . Major challenges resides with selectivity and stability of the hybrid catalysts while limited understanding of the mechanisms is apparent in the earlier work.
1. The main objective of this research project is the fundamental understanding of the stability and the selectivity of the catalysts. Iron nanoparticles are the catalyst of choice for conversion of synthesis gas to lower olefins (also referred to as Fischer Tropsch to Olefins, FTO) Subsequently the lower olefins will be converted to aromatics over a zeolite-based acidic catalysts.
2. Alternatively, synthesis gas is converted to methanol followed by dehydration/condensation to aromatics using bi-functional catalysts based on metal and acid functions, e.g. copper and zeolites respectively.