Revealing Active Sites and Reaction Pathways in Methane Non-Oxidative Coupling over Iron-Containing Zeolites

Hao Zhang, Aleksei Bolshakov, Raghavendra Meena, Gustavo A. Garcia, A.I. Dugulan, Alexander Parastaev, Guanna Li, Emiel J.M. Hensen*, Nikolay Kosinov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Non-oxidative coupling of methane is a promising route to obtain ethylene directly from natural gas. We synthesized siliceous [Fe]zeolites with MFI and CHA topologies and found that they display high selectivity (>90 % for MFI and >99 % for CHA) to ethylene and ethane among gas-phase products. Deactivated [Fe]zeolites can be regenerated by burning coke in air. In situ X-ray absorption spectroscopy demonstrates that the isolated Fe3+ centers in zeolite framework of fresh catalysts are reduced during the reaction to the active sites, including Fe2+ species and Fe (oxy)carbides dispersed in zeolite pores. Photoelectron photoion coincidence spectroscopy results show that methyl radicals are the reaction intermediates formed upon methane activation. Ethane is formed by methyl radical coupling, followed by its dehydrogenation to ethylene. Based on the observation of intermediates including allene, vinylacetylene, 1,3-butadiene, 2-butyne, and cyclopentadiene over [Fe]MFI, a reaction network is proposed leading to polyaromatic species. Such reaction intermediates are not observed over the small-pore [Fe]CHA, where ethylene and ethane are the only gas-phase products.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202306196
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2023


  • C−C Coupling
  • Iron
  • Methane
  • Non-Oxidative
  • Zeolites


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