The catalytic dehydrogenation (DH) and oxidative dehydrogenation (ODH) of light alkanes are of significant
industrial importance. In this work both carbonaceous material deposited on VOx/Al2O3 catalysts
during reaction and unsupported carbon nanofibres (CNFs) are shown to be active for the dehydrogenation
of butane in the absence of gas-phase oxygen. Their activity in these reactions is shown to be dependent
upon their structure, with different reaction temperatures yielding structurally different coke
deposits. Terahertz time-domain spectroscopy (THz-TDS), among other techniques, has been applied to
the characterisation of these deposits – the first time this technique has been employed in coke studies.
TEM and other techniques show that coke encapsulates the catalyst, preventing access to VOx sites, without
a loss of activity. Studies on CNFs confirm that carbonaceous materials act as catalysts in this reaction.
Carbon-based catalysts represent an important new class of potential catalysts for DH and ODH reactions.