Synchrotron infrared microspectroscopy has identified with high temporal resolution (down to 0.25 s) the initial events occurring when methanol vapor is in contact with a crystal of zeolite HZSM-5. The first alkenes are generated directly from methoxy groups formed at the acid sites via their deprotonation. These alkenes can either desorb directly or oligomerize and cyclize to form dimethylcyclopentenyl cations. The oligomeric and dimethylcyclopentenyl cations are the first major components of the hydrocarbon pool that precede aromatic hydrocarbons and lead to indirect alkene formation. The technique observes these events in real time.
Minova, I. B., Matam, S. K., Greenaway, A., Catlow, C. R. A., Frogley, M. D., Cinque, G., … Howe, R. F. (2019). Elementary Steps in the Formation of Hydrocarbons from Surface Methoxy Groups in HZSM-5 Seen by Synchrotron Infrared Microspectroscopy. ACS Catalysis, 9(7), 6564–6570. https://doi.org/10.1021/acscatal.9b01820