The selective transformation of light alkanes to aromatics that are more valuable and versatile feedstocks for the chemical industry is one of the major challenges of catalytic chemistry. The complexity of the aromatization chemistry makes it difficult to unravel reaction mechanisms and, mechanistic information is largely developed from observed product distributions. This article reviews the current mechanistic understanding for the conversion of propane to aromatic compounds over HZSM-5 and Ga/HZSM-5 catalysts based on experimental as well as theoretical studies. Following a general discussion of acidity and confinement effects in these systems, this review focuses on understanding specific reactions occurring on Brønsted acid sites in HZSM-5. Mechanistic details available from Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations, as well as kinetic modeling efforts for various complex hydrocarbon systems are critically reviewed. A detailed, tabulated review of the literature compares the catalytic performance of gallium modified ZSM-5 catalysts and subsequently the promotional effect of gallium as an additive is critically discussed in terms of the nature of the active sites, as well as the new reaction pathways introduced by gallium addition.
- Alkane activation
- Computational catalysis
- Hydrocarbon reactions on zeolites
- Kinetic modeling