The new Ce-promoted skeletal Fe catalysts with different Ce contents were prepared through alkali leaching of rapidly quenched ternary FeCeAl alloys and evaluated in the gas-phase Fischer–Tropsch synthesis reaction. N2 physisorption and XRD analysis confirmed the function of Ce as a structural promoter. In the Fischer–Tropsch synthesis reaction, the incorporation of Ce markedly improved the activity and selectivity to C5+ hydrocarbons. Characterizations of the catalysts after Fischer–Tropsch synthesis confirmed the function of Ce as a chemical promoter. We also confirmed that the catalytic activity is associated with the concentrations of the surface polymeric and, to a lesser extent, atomic carbonaceous species and the C5+ selectivity correlated well with the surface concentration of Hägg carbide. We identified a linear relationship between the concentrations of the CeIII cations and Hägg carbide, which clearly substantiated the hypothesis that the chemical effect of Ce is mediated by the Fe0CeIII ensembles facilitating the formation of Hägg carbide.
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