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Fluctuating reaction conditions are omnipresent in environmental catalysis, e.g. exhaust gas after-treatment. The catalysts used in such processes need to be tolerant towards the dramatic changes in feed composition and temperature. Due to changes in the availability of energy and materials also in other areas, more tolerant catalytic processes will be required in future. A good example is the German “Energiewende” where the aim is that more than 80% of the electric power stem from renewable energies in 2050. But this energy will be highly fluctuating as it mostly depends on the availability of wind and solar power. This has tremendous consequences both for catalyst and reactor design because varying reaction conditions due to the fluctuating supply of energy and reactants, or the dynamic operation of the reactors, will have a strong effect on the catalyst structure.
Triggered by this, focus has recently been laid on catalysts under dynamic reaction conditions as also summarized in a recent concept article . In fact, it was found and especially proven by spectroscopy and microscopy that nanoparticles are very dynamic in their structure under reaction conditions, i.e. they may change their shape, their phase (oxidation/reduction), sinter or even redisperse if the reaction conditions change [2,3]. Dynamic changes have for example been found in exhaust gas catalysis, also under oscillating catalytic behavior [2,3,4]. As most processes run under steady-state conditions, still little is known about the catalyst structure under dynamic conditions. The examples chosen will demonstrate that these structural dynamics have a strong impact on the reactivity, also in the field of methanation or methanol synthesis. As knowing the structure and reactivity of catalytic materials under dynamic reaction conditions will be increasingly important for processes emerging within the energy transition, corresponding research will also have important consequences on future catalyst and reactor design.
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