Catalysis

Catalysis

Overview

Catalysis is the change in rate
Reaction rate
The reaction rate or speed of reaction for a reactant or product in a particular reaction is intuitively defined as how fast or slow a reaction takes place...

 of a chemical reaction
Chemical reaction
A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the transformation of one set of chemical substances to another. Chemical reactions can be either spontaneous, requiring no input of energy, or non-spontaneous, typically following the input of some type of energy, such as heat, light or electricity...

 due to the participation of a substance called a catalyst. Unlike other reagent
Reagent
A reagent is a "substance or compound that is added to a system in order to bring about a chemical reaction, or added to see if a reaction occurs." Although the terms reactant and reagent are often used interchangeably, a reactant is less specifically a "substance that is consumed in the course of...

s that participate in the chemical reaction, a catalyst is not consumed by the reaction itself. A catalyst may participate in multiple chemical transformations. Catalysts that speed the reaction are called positive catalysts. Substances that slow a catalyst's effect in a chemical reaction are called inhibitors (or negative catalysts).
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Encyclopedia

Catalysis is the change in rate
Reaction rate
The reaction rate or speed of reaction for a reactant or product in a particular reaction is intuitively defined as how fast or slow a reaction takes place...

 of a chemical reaction
Chemical reaction
A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the transformation of one set of chemical substances to another. Chemical reactions can be either spontaneous, requiring no input of energy, or non-spontaneous, typically following the input of some type of energy, such as heat, light or electricity...

 due to the participation of a substance called a catalyst. Unlike other reagent
Reagent
A reagent is a "substance or compound that is added to a system in order to bring about a chemical reaction, or added to see if a reaction occurs." Although the terms reactant and reagent are often used interchangeably, a reactant is less specifically a "substance that is consumed in the course of...

s that participate in the chemical reaction, a catalyst is not consumed by the reaction itself. A catalyst may participate in multiple chemical transformations. Catalysts that speed the reaction are called positive catalysts. Substances that slow a catalyst's effect in a chemical reaction are called inhibitors (or negative catalysts). Substances that increase the activity of catalysts are called promoters, and substances that deactivate catalysts are called catalytic poisons.

Catalytic reactions have a lower rate-limiting free energy of activation than the corresponding uncatalyzed reaction, resulting in higher reaction rate at the same temperature. However, the mechanistic explanation of catalysis is complex. Catalysts may affect the reaction environment favorably, or bind to the reagents to polarize bonds, e.g. acid catalysts for reactions of carbonyl
Carbonyl
In organic chemistry, a carbonyl group is a functional group composed of a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom: C=O. It is common to several classes of organic compounds, as part of many larger functional groups....

 compounds, or form specific intermediates that are not produced naturally, such as osmate ester
Ester
Esters are chemical compounds derived by reacting an oxoacid with a hydroxyl compound such as an alcohol or phenol. Esters are usually derived from an inorganic acid or organic acid in which at least one -OH group is replaced by an -O-alkyl group, and most commonly from carboxylic acids and...

s in osmium tetroxide-catalyzed dihydroxylation of alkene
Alkene
In organic chemistry, an alkene, olefin, or olefine is an unsaturated chemical compound containing at least one carbon-to-carbon double bond...

s, or cause lysis
Lysis
Lysis refers to the breaking down of a cell, often by viral, enzymic, or osmotic mechanisms that compromise its integrity. A fluid containing the contents of lysed cells is called a "lysate"....

 of reagents to reactive forms, such as atomic hydrogen in catalytic hydrogenation.

Kinetically
Chemical kinetics
Chemical kinetics, also known as reaction kinetics, is the study of rates of chemical processes. Chemical kinetics includes investigations of how different experimental conditions can influence the speed of a chemical reaction and yield information about the reaction's mechanism and transition...

, catalytic reactions are typical chemical reactions; i.e. the reaction rate depends on the frequency of contact of the reactants in the rate-determining step. Usually, the catalyst participates in this slowest step, and rates are limited by amount of catalyst and its "activity". In heterogeneous catalysis
Heterogeneous catalysis
In chemistry, heterogeneous catalysis refers to the form of catalysis where the phase of the catalyst differs from that of the reactants. Phase here refers not only to solid, liquid, vs gas, but also immiscible liquids, e.g. oil and water. The great majority of practical heterogeneous catalysts...

, the diffusion of reagents to the surface and diffusion of products from the surface can be rate determining. Analogous events associated with substrate
Substrate (chemistry)
In chemistry, a substrate is the chemical species being observed, which reacts with a reagent. This term is highly context-dependent. In particular, in biochemistry, an enzyme substrate is the material upon which an enzyme acts....

 binding and product dissociation apply to homogeneous catalysts.

Although catalysts are not consumed by the reaction itself, they may be inhibited, deactivated, or destroyed by secondary processes. In heterogeneous catalysis, typical secondary processes include coking where the catalyst becomes covered by polymer
Polymer
A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds...

ic side products. Additionally, heterogeneous catalysts can dissolve into the solution in a solid–liquid system or evaporate in a solid–gas system.

Background


The production of most industrially important chemicals involves catalysis. Similarly, most biochemically significant processes are catalysed. Research into catalysis is a major field in applied science
Applied science
Applied science is the application of scientific knowledge transferred into a physical environment. Examples include testing a theoretical model through the use of formal science or solving a practical problem through the use of natural science....

 and involves many areas of chemistry, notably in organometallic chemistry
Organometallic chemistry
Organometallic chemistry is the study of chemical compounds containing bonds between carbon and a metal. Since many compounds without such bonds are chemically similar, an alternative may be compounds containing metal-element bonds of a largely covalent character...

 and materials science
Materials science
Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering. This scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates...

. Catalysis is relevant to many aspects of environmental science
Environmental science
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary academic field that integrates physical and biological sciences, to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems...

, e.g. the catalytic converter
Catalytic converter
A catalytic converter is a device used to convert toxic exhaust emissions from an internal combustion engine into non-toxic substances. Inside a catalytic converter, a catalyst stimulates a chemical reaction in which noxious byproducts of combustion are converted to less toxic substances by dint...

 in automobiles and the dynamics of the ozone hole. Catalytic reactions are preferred in environmentally friendly green chemistry
Green chemistry
Green chemistry, also called sustainable chemistry, is a philosophy of chemical research and engineering that encourages the design of products and processes that minimize the use and generation of hazardous substances...

 due to the reduced amount of waste generated, as opposed to stoichiometric reactions in which all reactants are consumed and more side products are formed. The most common catalyst is the hydrogen ion (H+). Many transition metal
Transition metal
The term transition metal has two possible meanings:*The IUPAC definition states that a transition metal is "an element whose atom has an incomplete d sub-shell, or which can give rise to cations with an incomplete d sub-shell." Group 12 elements are not transition metals in this definition.*Some...

s and transition metal complexes
Complex (chemistry)
In chemistry, a coordination complex or metal complex, is an atom or ion , bonded to a surrounding array of molecules or anions, that are in turn known as ligands or complexing agents...

 are used in catalysis as well. Catalysts called enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

s are important in biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

.

A catalyst works by providing an alternative reaction pathway to the reaction product. The rate of the reaction is increased as this alternative route has a lower activation energy
Activation energy
In chemistry, activation energy is a term introduced in 1889 by the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius that is defined as the energy that must be overcome in order for a chemical reaction to occur. Activation energy may also be defined as the minimum energy required to start a chemical reaction...

 than the reaction route not mediated by the catalyst. The disproportionation
Disproportionation
Disproportionation, also known as dismutation is used to describe a specific type of redox reaction in which a species is simultaneously reduced and oxidized so as to form two different products....

 of hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide and an oxidizer. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water. In dilute solution, it appears colorless. With its oxidizing properties, hydrogen peroxide is often used as a bleach or cleaning agent...

 creates water and oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

, as shown below.
2 H2O2 → 2 H2O + O2

This reaction is preferable in the sense that the reaction products are more stable than the starting material, though the uncatalysed reaction is slow. In fact, the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide is so slow that hydrogen peroxide solutions are commercially available. This reaction is strongly affected by catalysts such as manganese dioxide, or the enzyme peroxidase
Peroxidase
Peroxidases are a large family of enzymes that typically catalyze a reaction of the form:For many of these enzymes the optimal substrate is hydrogen peroxide, but others are more active with organic hydroperoxides such as lipid peroxides...

 in organisms. Upon the addition of a small amount of manganese dioxide, the hydrogen peroxide reacts rapidly. This effect is readily seen by the effervescence
Effervescence (chemistry)
Effervescence is the escape of gas from an aqueous solution and the foaming or fizzing that results from a release of the gas. The word effervescence is derived from the Latin verb fervere preceded by the adverb ex, which means to boil...

 of oxygen. The manganese dioxide is not consumed in the reaction, and thus may be recovered unchanged, and re-used indefinitely. Accordingly, manganese dioxide catalyses this reaction.

Typical mechanism



Catalysts generally react with one or more reactants to form intermediates that subsequently give the final reaction product, in the process regenerating the catalyst. The following is a typical reaction scheme, where C represents the catalyst, X and Y are reactants, and Z is the product of the reaction of X and Y:
X + C → XC (1)
Y + XC → XYC (2)
XYC → CZ (3)
CZ → C + Z (4)


Although the catalyst is consumed by reaction 1, it is subsequently produced by reaction 4, so for the overall reaction:
X + Y → Z

As a catalyst is regenerated in a reaction, often only small amounts are needed to increase the rate of the reaction. In practice, however, catalysts are sometimes consumed in secondary processes.

As an example of this process, in 2008 Danish researchers first revealed the sequence of events when oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

 and hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 combine on the surface of titanium dioxide
Titanium dioxide
Titanium dioxide, also known as titanium oxide or titania, is the naturally occurring oxide of titanium, chemical formula . When used as a pigment, it is called titanium white, Pigment White 6, or CI 77891. Generally it comes in two different forms, rutile and anatase. It has a wide range of...

 (TiO2, or titania) to produce water. With a time-lapse series of scanning tunneling microscopy images, they determined the molecules undergo adsorption
Adsorption
Adsorption is the adhesion of atoms, ions, biomolecules or molecules of gas, liquid, or dissolved solids to a surface. This process creates a film of the adsorbate on the surface of the adsorbent. It differs from absorption, in which a fluid permeates or is dissolved by a liquid or solid...

, dissociation
Dissociation (chemistry)
Dissociation in chemistry and biochemistry is a general process in which ionic compounds separate or split into smaller particles, ions, or radicals, usually in a reversible manner...

 and diffusion
Diffusion
Molecular diffusion, often called simply diffusion, is the thermal motion of all particles at temperatures above absolute zero. The rate of this movement is a function of temperature, viscosity of the fluid and the size of the particles...

 before reacting. The intermediate reaction states were: HO2, H2O2, then H3O2 and the final reaction product (water molecule dimers), after which the water molecule desorbs
Desorption
Desorption is a phenomenon whereby a substance is released from or through a surface. The process is the opposite of sorption . This occurs in a system being in the state of sorption equilibrium between bulk phase and an adsorbing surface...

 from the catalyst surface.

Catalysis and reaction energetics



Catalysts work by providing an (alternative) mechanism involving a different transition state
Transition state
The transition state of a chemical reaction is a particular configuration along the reaction coordinate. It is defined as the state corresponding to the highest energy along this reaction coordinate. At this point, assuming a perfectly irreversible reaction, colliding reactant molecules will always...

 and lower activation energy
Activation energy
In chemistry, activation energy is a term introduced in 1889 by the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius that is defined as the energy that must be overcome in order for a chemical reaction to occur. Activation energy may also be defined as the minimum energy required to start a chemical reaction...

. Consequently, more molecular collisions have the energy needed to reach the transition state. Hence, catalysts can enable reactions that would otherwise be blocked or slowed by a kinetic barrier. The catalyst may increase reaction rate or selectivity, or enable the reaction at lower temperatures. This effect can be illustrated with a Boltzmann distribution
Boltzmann distribution
In chemistry, physics, and mathematics, the Boltzmann distribution is a certain distribution function or probability measure for the distribution of the states of a system. It underpins the concept of the canonical ensemble, providing its underlying distribution...

 and energy profile diagram.

In the catalyzed elementary reaction
Elementary reaction
An elementary reaction is a chemical reaction in which one or more of the chemical species react directly to form products in a single reaction step and with a single transition state....

, catalysts do not change the extent of a reaction: they have no effect on the chemical equilibrium
Chemical equilibrium
In a chemical reaction, chemical equilibrium is the state in which the concentrations of the reactants and products have not yet changed with time. It occurs only in reversible reactions, and not in irreversible reactions. Usually, this state results when the forward reaction proceeds at the same...

 of a reaction because the rate of both the forward and the reverse reaction are both affected (see also thermodynamics
Thermodynamics
Thermodynamics is a physical science that studies the effects on material bodies, and on radiation in regions of space, of transfer of heat and of work done on or by the bodies or radiation...

). The fact that a catalyst does not change the equilibrium is a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics
Second law of thermodynamics
The second law of thermodynamics is an expression of the tendency that over time, differences in temperature, pressure, and chemical potential equilibrate in an isolated physical system. From the state of thermodynamic equilibrium, the law deduced the principle of the increase of entropy and...

. Suppose there was such a catalyst that shifted an equilibrium. Introducing the catalyst to the system would result in reaction to move to the new equilibrium, producing energy. Production of energy is a necessary result since reactions are spontaneous if and only if Gibbs free energy
Gibbs free energy
In thermodynamics, the Gibbs free energy is a thermodynamic potential that measures the "useful" or process-initiating work obtainable from a thermodynamic system at a constant temperature and pressure...

 is produced, and if there is no energy barrier, there is no need for a catalyst. Then, removing the catalyst would also result in reaction, producing energy; i.e. the addition and its reverse process, removal, would both produce energy. Thus, a catalyst that could change the equilibrium would be a perpetual motion machine, a contradiction to the laws of thermodynamics.

If a catalyst does change the equilibrium, then it must be consumed as the reaction proceeds, and thus it is also a reactant. Illustrative is the base-catalysed hydrolysis
Hydrolysis
Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction during which molecules of water are split into hydrogen cations and hydroxide anions in the process of a chemical mechanism. It is the type of reaction that is used to break down certain polymers, especially those made by condensation polymerization...

 of ester
Ester
Esters are chemical compounds derived by reacting an oxoacid with a hydroxyl compound such as an alcohol or phenol. Esters are usually derived from an inorganic acid or organic acid in which at least one -OH group is replaced by an -O-alkyl group, and most commonly from carboxylic acids and...

s, where the produced carboxylic acid
Carboxylic acid
Carboxylic acids are organic acids characterized by the presence of at least one carboxyl group. The general formula of a carboxylic acid is R-COOH, where R is some monovalent functional group...

 immediately reacts with the base catalyst and thus the reaction equilibrium is shifted towards hydrolysis.

The SI derived unit
SI derived unit
The International System of Units specifies a set of seven base units from which all other units of measurement are formed, by products of the powers of base units. These other units are called SI derived units, for example, the SI derived unit of area is square metre , and of density is...

 for measuring the catalytic activity of a catalyst is the katal
Katal
The katal is the SI unit of catalytic activity. It is a derived SI unit for expressing quantity values of catalytic activity of enzymes and other catalysts. Its use is recommended by the General Conference on Weights and Measures and other international organizations. It replaces the non-SI enzyme...

, which is moles per second. The productivity of a catalyst can be described by the turn over number (or TON) and the catalytic activity by the turn over frequency (TOF), which is the TON per time unit. The biochemical equivalent is the enzyme unit
Enzyme unit
The enzyme unit is a unit for the amount of a particular enzyme.One U is defined as the amount of the enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of 1 micro mole of substrate per minute...

. For more information on the efficiency of enzymatic catalysis, see the article on Enzymes.

The catalyst stabilizes the transition state more than it stabilizes the starting material. It decreases the kinetic barrier by decreasing the difference in energy between starting material and transition state. It does not change the energy difference between starting materials and products (thermodynamic barrier), or the available energy (this is provided by the environment as heat or light).

Typical catalytic materials


The chemical nature of catalysts is as diverse as catalysis itself, although some generalizations can be made. Proton acids are probably the most widely used catalysts, especially for the many reactions involving water, including hydrolysis and its reverse. Multifunctional solids often are catalytically active, e.g. zeolite
Zeolite
Zeolites are microporous, aluminosilicate minerals commonly used as commercial adsorbents. The term zeolite was originally coined in 1756 by Swedish mineralogist Axel Fredrik Cronstedt, who observed that upon rapidly heating the material stilbite, it produced large amounts of steam from water that...

s, alumina, higher-order oxides, graphitic carbon, nanoparticles, nanodots, and facets of bulk materials. Transition metals are often used to catalyze redox
Redox
Redox reactions describe all chemical reactions in which atoms have their oxidation state changed....

 reactions (oxidation, hydrogenation). Examples are nickel
Nickel
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile...

, such as Raney nickel
Raney nickel
Raney nickel is a solid catalyst composed of fine grains of a nickel-aluminium alloy, used in many industrial processes. It was developed in 1926 by American]] engineer Murray Raney as an alternative catalyst for the hydrogenation of vegetable oils in industrial processes...

 for hydrogenation, and vanadium(V) oxide
Vanadium(V) oxide
Vanadium oxide is the chemical compound with the formula V2O5. Commonly known as vanadium pentoxide, this brown/yellow solid is the most stable and common compound of vanadium. Upon heating it reversibly loses oxygen...

 for oxidation of sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is released by volcanoes and in various industrial processes. Since coal and petroleum often contain sulfur compounds, their combustion generates sulfur dioxide unless the sulfur compounds are removed before burning the fuel...

 into sulfur trioxide
Sulfur trioxide
Sulfur trioxide is the chemical compound with the formula SO3. In the gaseous form, this species is a significant pollutant, being the primary agent in acid rain. It is prepared on massive scales as a precursor to sulfuric acid.-Structure and bonding:Gaseous SO3 is a trigonal planar molecule of...

. Many catalytic processes, especially those used in organic synthesis, require so called "late transition metals", which include palladium
Palladium
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired...

, platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

, gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, ruthenium
Ruthenium
Ruthenium is a chemical element with symbol Ru and atomic number 44. It is a rare transition metal belonging to the platinum group of the periodic table. Like the other metals of the platinum group, ruthenium is inert to most chemicals. The Russian scientist Karl Ernst Claus discovered the element...

, rhodium
Rhodium
Rhodium is a chemical element that is a rare, silvery-white, hard and chemically inert transition metal and a member of the platinum group. It has the chemical symbol Rh and atomic number 45. It is composed of only one isotope, 103Rh. Naturally occurring rhodium is found as the free metal, alloyed...

, and iridium
Iridium
Iridium is the chemical element with atomic number 77, and is represented by the symbol Ir. A very hard, brittle, silvery-white transition metal of the platinum family, iridium is the second-densest element and is the most corrosion-resistant metal, even at temperatures as high as 2000 °C...

.

Some so-called catalysts are really precatalysts. Precatalysts convert to catalysts in the reaction. For example, Wilkinson's catalyst
Wilkinson's catalyst
Wilkinson's catalyst is the common name for chlorotrisrhodium, a coordination compound with the formula RhCl3 . It is named after the late organometallic chemist and 1973 Nobel Laureate, Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson who popularized its use.-Structure and basic properties:The compound is a square planar,...

 RhCl(PPh3)3 loses one triphenylphosphine ligand before entering the true catalytic cycle. Precatalysts are easier to store but are easily activated in situ. Because of this preactivation step, many catalytic reactions involve an induction period
Induction period
An induction period in chemical kinetics is an initial slow stage of a chemical reaction; after the induction period, the reaction accelerates. Ignoring induction periods can lead to runaway reactions....

.

Chemical species that improve catalytic activity are called co-catalysts (cocatalysts) or promotors in cooperative catalysis.

Types of catalysis


Catalysts can be either heterogeneous or homogeneous, depending on whether a catalyst exists in the same phase
Phase (matter)
In the physical sciences, a phase is a region of space , throughout which all physical properties of a material are essentially uniform. Examples of physical properties include density, index of refraction, and chemical composition...

 as the substrate
Substrate (chemistry)
In chemistry, a substrate is the chemical species being observed, which reacts with a reagent. This term is highly context-dependent. In particular, in biochemistry, an enzyme substrate is the material upon which an enzyme acts....

. Biocatalysts (enzymes) are often seen as a separate group.

Heterogeneous catalysts




Heterogeneous catalysts act in a different phase
Phase (matter)
In the physical sciences, a phase is a region of space , throughout which all physical properties of a material are essentially uniform. Examples of physical properties include density, index of refraction, and chemical composition...

 than the reactants. Most heterogeneous catalysts are solid
Solid
Solid is one of the three classical states of matter . It is characterized by structural rigidity and resistance to changes of shape or volume. Unlike a liquid, a solid object does not flow to take on the shape of its container, nor does it expand to fill the entire volume available to it like a...

s that act on substrates in a liquid
Liquid
Liquid is one of the three classical states of matter . Like a gas, a liquid is able to flow and take the shape of a container. Some liquids resist compression, while others can be compressed. Unlike a gas, a liquid does not disperse to fill every space of a container, and maintains a fairly...

 or gaseous reaction mixture. Diverse mechanisms for reactions on surfaces
Reactions on surfaces
By reactions on surfaces it is understood reactions in which at least one of the steps of the reaction mechanism is the adsorption of one or more reactants...

 are known, depending on how the adsorption takes place (Langmuir-Hinshelwood, Eley-Rideal, and Mars-van Krevelen). The total surface area of solid has an important effect on the reaction rate. The smaller the catalyst particle size, the larger the surface area for a given mass of particles.

For example, in the Haber process
Haber process
The Haber process, also called the Haber–Bosch process, is the nitrogen fixation reaction of nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas, over an enriched iron or ruthenium catalyst, which is used to industrially produce ammonia....

, finely divided iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 serves as a catalyst for the synthesis of ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

 from nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 and hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

. The reacting gas
Gas
Gas is one of the three classical states of matter . Near absolute zero, a substance exists as a solid. As heat is added to this substance it melts into a liquid at its melting point , boils into a gas at its boiling point, and if heated high enough would enter a plasma state in which the electrons...

es adsorb onto "active sites" on the iron particles. Once adsorbed, the bonds within the reacting molecules are weakened, and new bonds between the resulting fragments form in part due to their close proximity. In this way the particularly strong triple bond
Triple bond
A triple bond in chemistry is a chemical bond between two chemical elements involving six bonding electrons instead of the usual two in a covalent single bond. The most common triple bond, that between two carbon atoms, can be found in alkynes. Other functional groups containing a triple bond are...

 in nitrogen is weakened and the hydrogen and nitrogen atoms combine faster than would be the case in the gas phase, so the rate of reaction increases. Another place where a heterogeneous catalyst is applied is in the contact process
Contact process
The contact process is the current method of producing sulphuric acid in the high concentrations needed for industrial processes. Platinum was formerly employed as a catalyst for the reaction, but as it is susceptible to poisoning by arsenic impurities in the sulfur feedstock, vanadium oxide is...

 (oxidation of sulfur dioxide on vanadium(V) oxide
Vanadium(V) oxide
Vanadium oxide is the chemical compound with the formula V2O5. Commonly known as vanadium pentoxide, this brown/yellow solid is the most stable and common compound of vanadium. Upon heating it reversibly loses oxygen...

 for the production of sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid is a strong mineral acid with the molecular formula . Its historical name is oil of vitriol. Pure sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid. The salts of sulfuric acid are called sulfates...

).

Heterogeneous catalysts are typically “supported
Catalyst support
In chemistry, a catalyst support is the material, usually a solid with a high surface area, to which a catalyst is affixed. The reactivity of heterogeneous catalysts occurs at the surface atoms. Consequently great effort is made to maximize the surface area of a catalyst by distributing it over...

,” which means that the catalyst is dispersed on a second material that enhances the effectiveness or minimizes their cost. Sometimes the support is merely a surface on which the catalyst is spread to increase the surface area. More often, the support and the catalyst interact, affecting the catalytic reaction. Supports are porous materials with a high surface area, most commonly alumina or various kinds of activated carbon
Activated carbon
Activated carbon, also called activated charcoal, activated coal or carbo activatus, is a form of carbon that has been processed to make it extremely porous and thus to have a very large surface area available for adsorption or chemical reactions.The word activated in the name is sometimes replaced...

. Specialized supports include silicon dioxide
Silicon dioxide
The chemical compound silicon dioxide, also known as silica , is an oxide of silicon with the chemical formula '. It has been known for its hardness since antiquity...

, titanium dioxide
Titanium dioxide
Titanium dioxide, also known as titanium oxide or titania, is the naturally occurring oxide of titanium, chemical formula . When used as a pigment, it is called titanium white, Pigment White 6, or CI 77891. Generally it comes in two different forms, rutile and anatase. It has a wide range of...

, calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime,...

, and barium sulfate
Barium sulfate
Barium sulfate is the inorganic compound with the chemical formula BaSO4. It is a white crystalline solid that is odorless and insoluble in water. It occurs as the mineral barite, which is the main commercial source of barium and materials prepared from it...

.

Homogeneous catalysts



Homogeneous catalysts function in the same phase as the reactants, but the mechanistic principles invoked in heterogeneous catalysis are generally applicable. Typically homogeneous catalysts are dissolved in a solvent with the substrates. One example of homogeneous catalysis involves the influence of H
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

+ on the esterification of esters, e.g. methyl acetate from acetic acid and methanol. For inorganic chemists, homogeneous catalysis is often synonymous with organometallic catalysts
Organometallic chemistry
Organometallic chemistry is the study of chemical compounds containing bonds between carbon and a metal. Since many compounds without such bonds are chemically similar, an alternative may be compounds containing metal-element bonds of a largely covalent character...

.

Electrocatalysts



In the context of electrochemistry
Electrochemistry
Electrochemistry is a branch of chemistry that studies chemical reactions which take place in a solution at the interface of an electron conductor and an ionic conductor , and which involve electron transfer between the electrode and the electrolyte or species in solution.If a chemical reaction is...

, specifically in fuel cell
Fuel cell
A fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent. Hydrogen is the most common fuel, but hydrocarbons such as natural gas and alcohols like methanol are sometimes used...

 engineering, various metal-containing catalysts are used to enhance the rates of the half reactions that comprise the fuel cell. One common type of fuel cell electrocatalyst is based upon nanoparticles of platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

 that are supported on slightly larger carbon
Carbon
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

 particles. When in contact with one of the electrodes in a fuel cell, this platinum increases the rate of oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

 reduction to water, either to hydroxide
Hydroxide
Hydroxide is a diatomic anion with chemical formula OH−. It consists of an oxygen and a hydrogen atom held together by a covalent bond, and carrying a negative electric charge. It is an important but usually minor constituent of water. It functions as a base, as a ligand, a nucleophile, and a...

 or hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide and an oxidizer. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water. In dilute solution, it appears colorless. With its oxidizing properties, hydrogen peroxide is often used as a bleach or cleaning agent...

.

Organocatalysis



Whereas transition metals sometimes attract most of the attention in the study of catalysis, small organic molecules without metals can also exhibit catalytic properties, as is apparent from the fact that many enzymes lack transition metals. Typically, organic catalysts require a higher loading (amount of catalyst per unit amount of reactant, expressed in mol% amount of substance
Amount of substance
Amount of substance is a standards-defined quantity that measures the size of an ensemble of elementary entities, such as atoms, molecules, electrons, and other particles. It is sometimes referred to as chemical amount. The International System of Units defines the amount of substance to be...

) than transition metal(-ion)-based catalysts, but these catalysts are usually commercially available in bulk, helping to reduce costs. In the early 2000s, these organocatalysts were considered "new generation" and are competitive to traditional metal
Metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

(-ion)-containing catalysts. Organocatalysts are supposed to operate akin to metal-free enzymes utilizing, e.g., non-covalent interactions such as hydrogen bonding. The discipline organocatalysis is divided in the application of covalent (e.g., proline
Proline
Proline is an α-amino acid, one of the twenty DNA-encoded amino acids. Its codons are CCU, CCC, CCA, and CCG. It is not an essential amino acid, which means that the human body can synthesize it. It is unique among the 20 protein-forming amino acids in that the α-amino group is secondary...

, DMAP) and non-covalent (e.g., thiourea organocatalysis
Thiourea organocatalysis
urea organocatalysis describes the utilization of properly designed derivatives of urea and - preferably - thiourea to accelerate and stereochemically alter organic transformations through predominantly double hydrogen-bonding interactions with the respective substrate...

) organocatalysts referring to the preferred catalyst-substrate
Substrate (chemistry)
In chemistry, a substrate is the chemical species being observed, which reacts with a reagent. This term is highly context-dependent. In particular, in biochemistry, an enzyme substrate is the material upon which an enzyme acts....

 binding
Binding (molecular)
Molecular binding is an attractive interaction between two molecules which results in a stable association in which the molecules are in close proximity to each other...

 and interaction, respectively.

Significance of catalysis



Estimates are that 90% of all commercially produced chemical products involve catalysts at some stage in the process of their manufacture. In 2005, catalytic processes generated about $900 billion in products worldwide. Catalysis is so pervasive that subareas are not readily classified. Some areas of particular concentration are surveyed below.

Energy processing


Petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 refining makes intensive use of catalysis for alkylation
Alkylation
Alkylation is the transfer of an alkyl group from one molecule to another. The alkyl group may be transferred as an alkyl carbocation, a free radical, a carbanion or a carbene . Alkylating agents are widely used in chemistry because the alkyl group is probably the most common group encountered in...

, catalytic cracking (breaking long-chain hydrocarbons into smaller pieces), naphtha
Naphtha
Naphtha normally refers to a number of different flammable liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons, i.e., a component of natural gas condensate or a distillation product from petroleum, coal tar or peat boiling in a certain range and containing certain hydrocarbons. It is a broad term covering among the...

 reforming and steam reforming
Steam reforming
Fossil fuel reforming is a method of producing hydrogen or other useful products from fossil fuels such as natural gas. This is achieved in a processing device called a reformer which reacts steam at high temperature with the fossil fuel. The steam methane reformer is widely used in industry to...

 (conversion of hydrocarbons into synthesis gas). Even the exhaust from the burning of fossil fuels is treated via catalysis: Catalytic converter
Catalytic converter
A catalytic converter is a device used to convert toxic exhaust emissions from an internal combustion engine into non-toxic substances. Inside a catalytic converter, a catalyst stimulates a chemical reaction in which noxious byproducts of combustion are converted to less toxic substances by dint...

s, typically composed of platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

 and rhodium
Rhodium
Rhodium is a chemical element that is a rare, silvery-white, hard and chemically inert transition metal and a member of the platinum group. It has the chemical symbol Rh and atomic number 45. It is composed of only one isotope, 103Rh. Naturally occurring rhodium is found as the free metal, alloyed...

, break down some of the more harmful byproducts of automobile exhaust.
2 CO + 2 NO → 2 CO2 + N2


With regard to synthetic fuels, an old but still important process is the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis of hydrocarbons from synthesis gas, which itself is processed via water-gas shift reaction
Water gas shift reaction
The water-gas shift reaction is a chemical reaction in which carbon monoxide reacts with water vapor to form carbon dioxide and hydrogen:The water-gas shift reaction is an important industrial reaction. It is often used in conjunction with steam reforming of methane or other hydrocarbons, which is...

s, catalysed by iron. Biodiesel
Biodiesel
Biodiesel refers to a vegetable oil- or animal fat-based diesel fuel consisting of long-chain alkyl esters. Biodiesel is typically made by chemically reacting lipids with an alcohol....

 and related biofuels require processing via both inorganic and biocatalysts.

Fuel cells rely on catalysts for both the anodic and cathodic reactions.

Bulk chemicals


Some of the largest-scale chemicals are produced via catalytic oxidation, often using oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

. Examples include nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

 (from ammonia), sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid is a strong mineral acid with the molecular formula . Its historical name is oil of vitriol. Pure sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid. The salts of sulfuric acid are called sulfates...

 (from sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is released by volcanoes and in various industrial processes. Since coal and petroleum often contain sulfur compounds, their combustion generates sulfur dioxide unless the sulfur compounds are removed before burning the fuel...

 to sulfur trioxide
Sulfur trioxide
Sulfur trioxide is the chemical compound with the formula SO3. In the gaseous form, this species is a significant pollutant, being the primary agent in acid rain. It is prepared on massive scales as a precursor to sulfuric acid.-Structure and bonding:Gaseous SO3 is a trigonal planar molecule of...

 by the chamber process), terephthalic acid
Terephthalic acid
Terephthalic acid is the organic compound with formula C6H42. This colourless solid is a commodity chemical, used principally as a precursor to the polyester PET, used to make clothing and plastic bottles. Several billion kilograms are produced annually...

 from p-xylene, and acrylonitrile
Acrylonitrile
Acrylonitrile is the chemical compound with the formula C3H3N. This pungent-smelling colorless liquid often appears yellow due to impurities. It is an important monomer for the manufacture of useful plastics. In terms of its molecular structure, it consists of a vinyl group linked to a nitrile...

 from propane and ammonia.

Many other chemical products are generated by large-scale reduction, often via hydrogenation
Hydrogenation
Hydrogenation, to treat with hydrogen, also a form of chemical reduction, is a chemical reaction between molecular hydrogen and another compound or element, usually in the presence of a catalyst. The process is commonly employed to reduce or saturate organic compounds. Hydrogenation typically...

. The largest-scale example is ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

, which is prepared via the Haber process
Haber process
The Haber process, also called the Haber–Bosch process, is the nitrogen fixation reaction of nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas, over an enriched iron or ruthenium catalyst, which is used to industrially produce ammonia....

 from nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

. Methanol
Methanol
Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha or wood spirits, is a chemical with the formula CH3OH . It is the simplest alcohol, and is a light, volatile, colorless, flammable liquid with a distinctive odor very similar to, but slightly sweeter than, ethanol...

 is prepared from carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide , also called carbonous oxide, is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is slightly lighter than air. It is highly toxic to humans and animals in higher quantities, although it is also produced in normal animal metabolism in low quantities, and is thought to have some normal...

.

Bulk polymers derived from ethylene
Ethylene
Ethylene is a gaseous organic compound with the formula . It is the simplest alkene . Because it contains a carbon-carbon double bond, ethylene is classified as an unsaturated hydrocarbon. Ethylene is widely used in industry and is also a plant hormone...

 and propylene
Propylene
Propene, also known as propylene or methylethylene, is an unsaturated organic compound having the chemical formula C3H6. It has one double bond, and is the second simplest member of the alkene class of hydrocarbons, and it is also second in natural abundance.-Properties:At room temperature and...

 are often prepared via Ziegler-Natta catalysis. Polyesters, polyamides, and isocyanate
Isocyanate
Isocyanate is the functional group of elements –N=C=O , not to be confused with the cyanate functional group which is arranged as –O–C≡N or with isocyanide, R-N≡C. Any organic compound which contains an isocyanate group may also be referred to in brief as an isocyanate. An isocyanate may have more...

s are derived via acid-base catalysis.

Most carbonylation
Carbonylation
Carbonylation refers to reactions that introduce carbon monoxide into organic and inorganic substrates. Carbon monoxide is abundantly available and conveniently reactive, so it is widely used as a reactant in industrial chemistry.-Organic chemistry:...

 processes require metal catalysts, examples include the Monsanto acetic acid process and hydroformylation
Hydroformylation
Hydroformylation, also known as oxo synthesis or oxo process, is an important industrial process for the production of aldehydes from alkenes. This chemical reaction entails the addition of a formyl group and a hydrogen atom to a carbon-carbon double bond...

.

Fine chemicals


Many fine chemicals are prepared via catalysis; methods include those of heavy industry as well as more specialized processes that would be prohibitively expensive on a large scale. Examples include olefin metathesis
Olefin metathesis
Olefin metathesis or transalkylidenation is an organic reaction that entails redistribution of alkylene fragments by the scission of carbon - carbon double bonds in olefins . Its advantages include the creation of fewer sideproducts and hazardous wastes. Yves Chauvin, Robert H. Grubbs, and Richard R...

 using Grubbs' catalyst
Grubbs' catalyst
Grubbs' Catalyst is a transition metal carbene complex named after Robert H. Grubbs, the chemist who first synthesized it. There are two generations of the catalyst, as shown on the right. In contrast to other olefin metathesis catalysts, Grubbs' Catalysts tolerate other functional groups in the...

, the Heck reaction
Heck reaction
The Heck reaction is the chemical reaction of an unsaturated halide with an alkene and a base and palladium catalyst to form a substituted alkene. Together with the other palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling reactions, this reaction is of great importance, as it allows one to do substitution...

, and Friedel-Crafts reaction
Friedel-Crafts reaction
The Friedel–Crafts reactions are a set of reactions developed by Charles Friedel and James Crafts in 1877. There are two main types of Friedel–Crafts reactions: alkylation reactions and acylation reactions. This reaction type is a form of electrophilic aromatic substitution...

s.

Because most bioactive compounds are chiral
Chirality (chemistry)
A chiral molecule is a type of molecule that lacks an internal plane of symmetry and thus has a non-superimposable mirror image. The feature that is most often the cause of chirality in molecules is the presence of an asymmetric carbon atom....

, many pharmaceuticals are produced by enantioselective catalysis (catalytic asymmetric synthesis).

Food processing


One of the most obvious applications of catalysis is the hydrogenation (reaction with hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 gas) of fats using nickel
Nickel
Nickel is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Ni and atomic number 28. It is a silvery-white lustrous metal with a slight golden tinge. Nickel belongs to the transition metals and is hard and ductile...

 catalyst to produce margarine
Margarine
Margarine , as a generic term, can indicate any of a wide range of butter substitutes, typically composed of vegetable oils. In many parts of the world, the market share of margarine and spreads has overtaken that of butter...

. Many other foodstuffs are prepared via biocatalysis (see below).

Biology



In nature, enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

s are catalysts in metabolism
Metabolism
Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories...

 and catabolism
Catabolism
Catabolism is the set of metabolic pathways that break down molecules into smaller units and release energy. In catabolism, large molecules such as polysaccharides, lipids, nucleic acids and proteins are broken down into smaller units such as monosaccharides, fatty acids, nucleotides, and amino...

. Most biocatalysts are protein-based, i.e. enzymes, but other classes of biomolecules also exhibit catalytic properties including ribozyme
Ribozyme
A ribozyme is an RNA molecule with a well defined tertiary structure that enables it to catalyze a chemical reaction. Ribozyme means ribonucleic acid enzyme. It may also be called an RNA enzyme or catalytic RNA. Many natural ribozymes catalyze either the hydrolysis of one of their own...

s, and synthetic deoxyribozyme
Deoxyribozyme
Deoxyribozymes or DNA enzymes or catalytic DNA, or DNAzymes are DNA molecules with catalytic action. In contrast to the RNA ribozyme that has many catalytic capabilities, DNA is only associated with gene replication and nothing else...

s.

Biocatalysts can be thought of as intermediate between homogenous and heterogeneous catalysts, although strictly speaking soluble enzymes are homogeneous catalysts and membrane
Biological membrane
A biological membrane or biomembrane is an enclosing or separatingmembrane that acts as a selective barrier, within or around a cell. It consists of a lipid bilayer with embedded proteins that may constitute close to 50% of membrane content...

-bound enzymes are heterogeneous. Several factors affect the activity of enzymes (and other catalysts) including temperature, pH, concentration of enzyme, substrate, and products. A particularly important reagent in enzymatic reactions is water, which is the product of many bond-forming reactions and a reactant in many bond-breaking processes.

Enzymes are employed to prepare many commodity chemicals including high-fructose corn syrup and acrylamide
Acrylamide
Acrylamide is a chemical compound with the chemical formula C3H5NO. Its IUPAC name is prop-2-enamide. It is a white odourless crystalline solid, soluble in water, ethanol, ether, and chloroform. Acrylamide is incompatible with acids, bases, oxidizing agents, iron, and iron salts...

.

In the environment


Catalysis impacts the environment by increasing the efficiency of industrial processes, but catalysis also plays a direct role in the environment. A notable example is the catalytic role of chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 free radicals in the breakdown of ozone
Ozone
Ozone , or trioxygen, is a triatomic molecule, consisting of three oxygen atoms. It is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic allotrope...

. These radicals are formed by the action of ultraviolet
Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

 radiation
Radiation
In physics, radiation is a process in which energetic particles or energetic waves travel through a medium or space. There are two distinct types of radiation; ionizing and non-ionizing...

 on chlorofluorocarbon
Chlorofluorocarbon
A chlorofluorocarbon is an organic compound that contains carbon, chlorine, and fluorine, produced as a volatile derivative of methane and ethane. A common subclass are the hydrochlorofluorocarbons , which contain hydrogen, as well. They are also commonly known by the DuPont trade name Freon...

s (CFCs).
Cl· + O3 → ClO· + O2
ClO· + O· → Cl· + O2

History


In a general sense, anything that increases the rate of a process is a "catalyst", a term derived from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 καταλύειν, meaning "to annul," or "to untie," or "to pick up." The phrase catalysed processes was coined by Jöns Jakob Berzelius
Jöns Jakob Berzelius
Jöns Jacob Berzelius was a Swedish chemist. He worked out the modern technique of chemical formula notation, and is together with John Dalton, Antoine Lavoisier, and Robert Boyle considered a father of modern chemistry...

 in 1836 to describe reactions that are accelerated by substances that remain unchanged after the reaction. Other early chemists involved in catalysis were Alexander Mitscherlich
Alexander Mitscherlich
Alexander Mitscherlich was a German chemist.His most important work was in the field of processing wood to create cellulose....

 who referred to contact processes and Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner
Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner
Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner was a German chemist who is best known for work that foreshadowed the periodic law for the chemical elements.- Life and work :...

 who spoke of contact action and whose lighter based on hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 and a platinum
Platinum
Platinum is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pt and an atomic number of 78. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina del Pinto, which is literally translated into "little silver of the Pinto River." It is a dense, malleable, ductile, precious, gray-white transition metal...

 sponge became a huge commercial success in the 1820s. Humphry Davy
Humphry Davy
Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet FRS MRIA was a British chemist and inventor. He is probably best remembered today for his discoveries of several alkali and alkaline earth metals, as well as contributions to the discoveries of the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine...

 discovered the use of platinum in catalysis. In the 1880s, Wilhelm Ostwald
Wilhelm Ostwald
Friedrich Wilhelm Ostwald was a Baltic German chemist. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1909 for his work on catalysis, chemical equilibria and reaction velocities...

 at Leipzig University started a systematic investigation into reactions that were catalyzed by the presence of acids and bases, and found that chemical reactions occur at finite rates and that these rates can be used to determine the strengths of acids and bases. For this work, Ostwald was awarded the 1909 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry is awarded annually by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to scientists in the various fields of chemistry. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature,...

.

Inhibitors, poisons and promoters


Substances that reduce the action of catalysts are called catalyst inhibitors
Reaction inhibitor
A reaction inhibitor is a substance that decreases the rate of, or prevents, a chemical reaction.-Inhibition of a catalyst:An inhibitor can reduce the effectiveness of a catalyst in a catalysed reaction...

 if reversible, and catalyst poisons
Catalyst poisoning
Catalyst poisoning refers to the effect that a catalyst can be 'poisoned' if it reacts with another compound that bonds chemically to its active surface sites. This effectively reduces the usefulness of the catalyst...

 if irreversible. Promoters are substances that increase the catalytic activity, even though they are not catalysts by themselves.

Inhibitors are sometimes referred to as "negative catalysts" since they decrease the reaction rate. However they do not work by introducing a reaction path with higher activation energy, as this term might suggest; this would not reduce the rate since the reaction would continue to occur by the non-catalyzed path. Instead they act either by inactivating catalysts, or by removing reaction intermediates such as free radicals.

The inhibitor may modify selectivity in addition to rate. For instance, in the reduction of ethyne to ethene, the catalyst is palladium
Palladium
Palladium is a chemical element with the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named it after the asteroid Pallas, which was itself named after the epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, acquired...

 (Pd) partly "poisoned" with lead(II) acetate
Lead(II) acetate
Lead acetate , also known as lead acetate, lead diacetate, plumbous acetate, sugar of lead, lead sugar, salt of Saturn, and Goulard's powder, is a white crystalline chemical compound with a sweetish taste. It is made by treating lead oxide with acetic acid. Like other lead compounds, it is toxic...

 (Pb(CH3COO)2). Without the deactivation of the catalyst, the ethene produced will be further reduced to ethane
Ethane
Ethane is a chemical compound with chemical formula C2H6. It is the only two-carbon alkane that is an aliphatic hydrocarbon. At standard temperature and pressure, ethane is a colorless, odorless gas....

.

The inhibitor can produce this effect by e.g. selectively poisoning only certain types of active sites. Another mechanism is the modification of surface geometry. For instance, in hydrogenation operations, large planes of metal surface function as sites of hydrogenolysis
Hydrogenolysis
Hydrogenolysis is a chemical reaction whereby a carbon–carbon or carbon–heteroatom single bond is cleaved or undergoes "lysis" by hydrogen. The heteroatom may vary, but it usually is oxygen, nitrogen, or sulfur. A related reaction is hydrogenation, where hydrogen is added to the molecule, without...

 catalysis while sites catalyzing hydrogenation
Hydrogenation
Hydrogenation, to treat with hydrogen, also a form of chemical reduction, is a chemical reaction between molecular hydrogen and another compound or element, usually in the presence of a catalyst. The process is commonly employed to reduce or saturate organic compounds. Hydrogenation typically...

 of unsaturates are smaller. Thus, a poison that covers surface randomly will tend to reduce the number of uncontaminated large planes but leave proportionally more smaller sites free, thus changing the hydrogenation vs. hydrogenolysis selectivity. Many other mechanisms are also possible.

Promoters can cover up surface to prevent production of a mat of coke, or even actively remove such material (e.g. rhenium on platinum in platforming). They can aid the dispersion of the catalytic material or bind to reagents.

Current market


The global demand on catalysts in 2010 was estimated at approximately 29.5 billions US$. With the rapid recovery in automotive and chemical industry overall, the global catalyst market is expected to experience fast growth in the next years.

See also



  • Autocatalysis
    Autocatalysis
    A single chemical reaction is said to have undergone autocatalysis, or be autocatalytic, if the reaction product itself is the catalyst for that reaction....

  • BIG-NSE
    BIG-NSE
    The Berlin Graduate School of Natural Sciences and Engineering is part of the Cluster of Excellence “Unifying Concepts in Catalysis” founded in November 2007 by the Technical University of Berlin and five further institutions in the Berlin area within the framework of the German government‘s ...

     (Berlin Graduate School of Natural Sciences and Engineering)
  • Catalysis Science & Technology
    Catalysis Science & Technology
    Catalysis Science & Technology is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that is published monthly by the Royal Society of Chemistry.. The editors-in-chief are Cynthia Friend and Piet van Leeuwen ....

    (a chemistry journal)
  • Environmental triggers
  • Enzyme catalysis
    Enzyme catalysis
    Enzyme catalysis is the catalysis of chemical reactions by specialized proteins known as enzymes. Catalysis of biochemical reactions in the cell is vital due to the very low reaction rates of the uncatalysed reactions....

  • Industrial catalysts
    Industrial catalysts
    The first time a catalyst was used in the industry was in 1746 by J. Roebuck in the manufacture of lead chamber sulfuric acid. Since then catalysts have been in used in a large portion of the chemical industry...

  • Kelvin probe force microscope
    Kelvin probe force microscope
    Kelvin probe force microscopy , also known as surface potential microscopy, is a noncontact variant of atomic force microscopy that was invented in 1991. With KPFM, the work function of surfaces can be observed at atomic or molecular scales...

  • Pharmaceutic adjuvant
    Pharmaceutic adjuvant
    In pharmacology, adjuvants are drugs that have few or no pharmacological effects by themselves, but may increase the efficacy or potency of other drugs when given at the same time....

  • Phase Boundary Catalysis
    Phase Boundary Catalysis
    In chemistry, phase-boundary catalysis is a type of heterogeneous catalytic system which facilitates the chemical reaction of a particular chemical component in immiscible phase react on a catalytic active site located at phase boundary. The chemical component is soluble in one phase but insoluble...

  • Phase transfer catalyst
    Phase transfer catalyst
    In chemistry, a phase transfer catalyst or PTC is a catalyst that facilitates the migration of a reactant from one phase into another phase where reaction occurs. Phase transfer catalysis is a special form of heterogeneous catalysis. Ionic reactants are often soluble in an aqueous phase but...

  • Photocatalysis
    Photocatalysis
    In chemistry, photocatalysis is the acceleration of a photoreaction in the presence of a catalyst. In catalysed photolysis, light is absorbed by an adsorbed substrate. In photogenerated catalysis, the photocatalytic activity depends on the ability of the catalyst to create electron–hole pairs,...

  • Ribozyme
    Ribozyme
    A ribozyme is an RNA molecule with a well defined tertiary structure that enables it to catalyze a chemical reaction. Ribozyme means ribonucleic acid enzyme. It may also be called an RNA enzyme or catalytic RNA. Many natural ribozymes catalyze either the hydrolysis of one of their own...

     (RNA Biocatalysis)
  • SUMO enzymes
    SUMO enzymes
    SUMO enzymatic cascade catalyzes the dynamic posttranslational modification process of sumoylation...

  • Temperature-programmed reduction
    Temperature-programmed reduction
    Temperature-programmed reduction is a technique for the characterization of solid materials and is often used in the field of heterogeneous catalysis to find the most efficient reduction conditions, an oxidized catalyst precursor is submitted to a programmed temperature rise while a reducing gas...

  • Thermal desorption spectroscopy
    Thermal desorption spectroscopy
    Thermal desorption spectroscopy , also known as temperature programmed desorption is a Buzzword for the method of observing desorbed molecules from a surface when the surface temperature is increased...



External links