What does it mean if a catalyst has multiple "/" symbols, such as $\ce{Mn/Fe/Al2O3}$? Does it mean either $\ce{Mn}$ or $\ce{Fe}$, or does it mean both are supported on $\ce{Al2O3}$?

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    $\begingroup$ Both metal are present, but otherwise it seems imprecise to me. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Jul 11 '17 at 21:05

There should be only one "/" symbol. When more are used, it should be unambiguous from the context what is the carrier, e.g. in your case it would be more appropriate to use a dash:


From section 1.3 Composition, structure and texture of catalysts of 1975 IUPAC recommendations for heterogeneous catalysis [1, p. 79] (emphasis mine):

Support. In multiphase catalysts, the active catalytic material is often present as the minor component dispersed upon a support sometimes called a carrier. The support may be catalytically inert but it may contribute to the overall catalytic activity. Certain bifunctional catalysts (§1.2.8) constitute an extreme example of this. In naming such a catalyst, the active component should be listed first, the support second and the two words or phrases should be separated by a solidus, for example, platinum/silica or platinum/silica-alumina. The solidus is sometimes replaced by the word "on", for example, platinum on alumina.

Promoter. In some cases, a relatively small quantity of one or more substances, the promoter or promoters, when added to a catalyst improves the activity, the selectivity, or the useful lifetime of the catalyst. In general, a promoter may either augment a desired reaction or suppress an undesired one. There is no formal system of nomenclature for designating promoted catalysts. One may, however, for example, employ the phrase "iron promoted with alumina and potassium oxide".


  1. Burwell, R. L. Manual of Symbols and Terminology for Physicochemical Quantities and Units. Appendix II. Heterogeneous Catalysis; Pure Appl. Chem. 46, 71, 1976. https://doi.org/10.1351/pac197646010071 (Open Access)
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