"Currently, there is a strong reliance on petroleum imports to satisfy Europe´s demand of liquid fuels and platform chemicals. For economic and environmental reasons, a shift in the raw materials base to greener natural gas and renewable non-edible biomass resources is a priority. Dealing with such non-conventional resources will require a significant decentralization, downscaling and intensification of the chemical processes. The rational development of new solid catalysts with porous structures tailored to control the traffic of molecules within their pores, and displaying multiple catalytic functions to effect several reactions in a cascade fashion will pave the way to these novel processes. The aim of ""3DMultiCAT"" is to synthesize a new generation of catalysts, with hierarchical and organized porosities at three length-scales (from Å to µm) and spatially compartmentalized functionalities. These catalysts will be applied in the wax-free synthesis of branched hydrocarbons from synthesis gas (CO+H2), which is obtained from natural gas or biomass. The catalysts will combine metal nanoparticles, to effect the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis of hydrocarbons, with acidic sites in nanosized zeolites, to in situ hydrocrack and isomerize the primary products, rendering liquid fuels in a single step. Essential is to overcome limitations of the state-of-the-art, such as intra-pore diffusion limitations for reactants (CO) in the working catalyst and the detrimental direct contact of the two types of catalytic sites. To this end, Tomographic (3D) Focus-Ion-Beam Scanning-Electron-Microscopy coupled to quantitative image analysis, and Electron Dispersive X-ray nano-spectroscopy, will be incorporated into the tool-box of catalyst design. Developed chiefly in the field of earth-sciences, these methods will serve to guide the design of the macroporous catalyst structure and the compartmentalization of the different functionalities in connected, though spatially separated pore systems."
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