Direct, nonoxidative conversion of methane to ethylene, aromatics, and hydrogen. Academic Article uri icon


  • The efficient use of natural gas will require catalysts that can activate the first C-H bond of methane while suppressing complete dehydrogenation and avoiding overoxidation. We report that single iron sites embedded in a silica matrix enable direct, nonoxidative conversion of methane, exclusively to ethylene and aromatics. The reaction is initiated by catalytic generation of methyl radicals, followed by a series of gas-phase reactions. The absence of adjacent iron sites prevents catalytic C-C coupling, further oligomerization, and hence, coke deposition. At 1363 kelvin, methane conversion reached a maximum at 48.1% and ethylene selectivity peaked at 48.4%, whereas the total hydrocarbon selectivity exceeded 99%, representing an atom-economical transformation process of methane. The lattice-confined single iron sites delivered stable performance, with no deactivation observed during a 60-hour test.

published proceedings

  • Science

altmetric score

  • 28.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Guo, X., Fang, G., Li, G., Ma, H., Fan, H., Yu, L., ... Bao, X.

citation count

  • 937

complete list of authors

  • Guo, Xiaoguang||Fang, Guangzong||Li, Gang||Ma, Hao||Fan, Hongjun||Yu, Liang||Ma, Chao||Wu, Xing||Deng, Dehui||Wei, Mingming||Tan, Dali||Si, Rui||Zhang, Shuo||Li, Jianqi||Sun, Litao||Tang, Zichao||Pan, Xiulian||Bao, Xinhe

publication date

  • May 2014