Short alkanes are an important resource for the production of synthetic materials and fine chemicals. To oxidize these small hydrocarbons via low-temperature catalysis, zeolites containing alkaline or alkaline earth cations are promising materials. Incoherent inelastic neutron scattering (IINS) and various other in-situ techniques, gained a better understanding of the activation of the reactant molecules and the desorption of the oxidation products. IINS provided information on the adsorption sites, surface bonding, and local chemical environment of the adsorbed molecules. Vibrational spectra of the zeolites NaY, GaY and NaCaY were recorded after their calcination in vacuum, after the adsorption of propane and oxygen, and after the oxidation of propane by oxygen. In conjunction with IR absorption data, the results provide insights regarding the mechanism of the oxidation and the adsorbate-zeolite interactions that should lead to the design and development of new catalysts, or the selective oxidation of hydrocarbons. This is an abstract of a paper presented at the 228th ACS National Meeting (Philadelphia, PA, 8/22-26/2004).