Catalysts are remarkable substances that can expedite chemical reactions without being consumed. This process occurs through various means, including accelerating the rates at which change happens or reducing the necessary temperature and/or pressure.

During chemical reactions, breaking, rearranging, and forming new bonds between atoms occur, accompanied by the exchange of energy. This progression entails developing a transition state with higher energy than the reactants. The activation energy (Ea) is the minimum energy required to achieve this transition state. In order to reach this transition, heat can be supplied, increasing the kinetic energy of the molecules, which promotes bond rearrangement. Catalyst can contribute to circumventing the need for high Ea by providing alternative pathways, lowering this value.

What kind of catalysts are there?

  • Homogeneous catalysts: These catalysts share the same phase as the reactants, promoting enhanced interaction and reactivity under mild conditions.
  • Heterogeneous catalysts: Operating in a different phase than the reactants, these catalysts are prevalent in industry due to their ease of product separation and catalyst recovery.
  • Biocatalysts: Certain biological molecules, such as enzymes or nucleic acids, can accelerate biochemical reactions.