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Inelastic neutron scattering (INS) is increasingly being used for the characterization of heterogeneous catalysts. As the technique is uniquely sensitive to hydrogen atoms, vibrational spectra can be obtained that emphasize a hydrogenous component or hydrogen-containing moieties adsorbed on to an inorganic support. However, due to sensitivity constraints, the technique typically requires large sample masses (∼10 g catalyst). A reaction system is hereby described that enables suitable quantities of heterogeneous catalysts to be appropriately activated and operated under steady-state conditions for extended periods of time prior to acquisition of the INS spectrum. In addition to ex situ studies, a cell is described which negates the need for a sample transfer stage between reaction testing and INS measurement. This cell can operate up to temperatures of 823 K and pressures up to 20 bar. The apparatus is also amenable to adsorption experiments at the gas–solid interface.