An international group of scientists has used quasi-elastic and inelastic neutron scattering at ISIS to uncover crucial differences in substrate diffusion and active-site interactions in zeotype catalysts for nylon manufacture (an industry valued at $14 billion USD for 2019). With complementary solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance and probe-based Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), they have been able to provide an insight into the role of the active site in the mechanistic and reaction pathways, and hence rationalise the activity of industrial, solid-acid catalysts. Their results will play a vital role in designing future catalysts for sustainable industrial processes.
Neutron spectroscopy has revealed contrasting diffusive behaviour in faujasitic catalysts for the Beckmann rearrangement, thus highlighting the importance of framework topology and active site interactions in catalyst design.
Related publication: M. E. Potter et al. “Understanding the Role of Molecular Diffusion and Catalytic Selectivity in Liquid-Phase Beckmann Rearrangement" ACS Catal. 7(4) (2017), 2926-2934, DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.6b03641