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A range of industrial catalysts in pellet form Catalysts.JPG
A range of industrial catalysts in pellet form
An air filter that uses a low-temperature oxidation catalyst to convert carbon monoxide to less toxic carbon dioxide at room temperature. It can also remove formaldehyde from the air. Low Temperature Oxidation Catalyst.jpeg
An air filter that uses a low-temperature oxidation catalyst to convert carbon monoxide to less toxic carbon dioxide at room temperature. It can also remove formaldehyde from the air.

Catalysis ( /kəˈtæləsɪs/ ) is the increase in rate of a chemical reaction due to an added substance known as a catalyst [1] [2] ( /ˈkætəlɪst/ ). Catalysts are not consumed by the reaction and remain unchanged after it. [3] If the reaction is rapid and the catalyst recycles quickly, very small amounts of catalyst often suffice; [4] mixing, surface area, and temperature are important factors in reaction rate. Catalysts generally react with one or more reactants to form intermediates that subsequently give the final reaction product, in the process of regenerating the catalyst.


The rate increase occurs because the catalyst allows the reaction to occur by an alternative mechanism which may be much faster than the non-catalyzed mechanism. However the non-catalyzed mechanism does remain possible, so that the total rate (catalyzed plus non-catalyzed) can only increase in the presence of the catalyst and never decrease. [5]

Catalysis may be classified as either homogeneous, whose components are dispersed in the same phase (usually gaseous or liquid) as the reactant, or heterogeneous, whose components are not in the same phase. Enzymes and other biocatalysts are often considered as a third category.

Catalysis is ubiquitous in chemical industry of all kinds. [6] Estimates are that 90% of all commercially produced chemical products involve catalysts at some stage in the process of their manufacture.

The term "catalyst" is derived from Greek καταλύειν , kataluein, meaning "loosen" or "untie". The concept of catalysis was invented by chemist Elizabeth Fulhame, based on her novel work in oxidation-reduction experiments. [7] [8]

General principles


An illustrative example is the effect of catalysts to speed the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen:

2 H2O2 → 2 H2O + O2

This reaction proceeds because the reaction products are more stable than the starting compound, but this decomposition is so slow that hydrogen peroxide solutions are commercially available. In the presence of a catalyst such as manganese dioxide this reaction proceeds much more rapidly. This effect is readily seen by the effervescence of oxygen. [9] The catalyst is not consumed in the reaction, and may be recovered unchanged and re-used indefinitely. Accordingly, manganese dioxide is said to catalyze this reaction. In living organisms, this reaction is catalyzed by enzymes (proteins that serve as catalysts) such as catalase.

Another example is the effect of catalysts on air pollution and reducing the amount of carbon monoxide. Development of active and selective catalysts for the conversion of carbon monoxide into desirable products is one of the most important roles of catalysts. Using catalysts for hydrogenation of carbon monoxide helps to remove this toxic gas and also attain useful materials. [10]


The SI derived unit for measuring the catalytic activity of a catalyst is the katal, which is quantified in moles per second. The productivity of a catalyst can be described by the turnover 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. For more information on the efficiency of enzymatic catalysis, see the article on enzymes .

Catalytic reaction mechanisms

In general, chemical reactions occur faster in the presence of a catalyst because the catalyst provides an alternative reaction mechanism (reaction pathway) having a lower activation energy than the non-catalyzed mechanism. In catalyzed mechanisms, the catalyst is regenerated. [11] [12] [13] [14]

As a simple example occurring in the gas phase, the reaction 2 SO2 + O2 → 2 SO3 can be catalyzed by adding nitric oxide. The reaction occurs in two steps:

2 NO + O2 → 2 NO2 (rate-determining)
NO2 + SO2 → NO + SO3 (fast)

The NO catalyst is regenerated. The overall rate is the rate of the slow step [14]

v = 2k1[NO]2[O2].

An example of heterogeneous catalysis is the reaction of oxygen and hydrogen on the surface of titanium dioxide (TiO2, or titania) to produce water. Scanning tunneling microscopy showed that the molecules undergo adsorption and dissociation. The dissociated, surface-bound O and H atoms diffuse together. The intermediate reaction states are: HO2, H2O2, then H3O2 and the reaction product (water molecule dimers), after which the water molecule desorbs from the catalyst surface. [15] [16]

Reaction energetics

Generic potential energy diagram showing the effect of a catalyst in a hypothetical exothermic chemical reaction X + Y to give Z. The presence of the catalyst opens a different reaction pathway (shown in red) with lower activation energy. The final result and the overall thermodynamics are the same. CatalysisScheme-en.svg
Generic potential energy diagram showing the effect of a catalyst in a hypothetical exothermic chemical reaction X + Y to give Z. The presence of the catalyst opens a different reaction pathway (shown in red) with lower activation energy. The final result and the overall thermodynamics are the same.

Catalysts enable pathways that differ from the uncatalyzed reactions. These pathways have lower activation energy. 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 the reaction rate or selectivity, or enable the reaction at lower temperatures. This effect can be illustrated with an energy profile diagram.

In the catalyzed elementary reaction, catalysts do not change the extent of a reaction: they have no effect on the chemical equilibrium of a reaction. The ratio of the forward and the reverse reaction rates is unaffected (see also thermodynamics). The second law of thermodynamics describes why a catalyst does not change the chemical equilibrium of a reaction. Suppose there was such a catalyst that shifted an equilibrium. Introducing the catalyst to the system would result in a reaction to move to the new equilibrium, producing energy. Production of energy is a necessary result since reactions are spontaneous only if Gibbs free energy is produced, and if there is no energy barrier, there is no need for a catalyst. Then, removing the catalyst would also result in a 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. [17] Thus, catalysts do not alter the equilibrium constant. (A catalyst can however change the equilibrium concentrations by reacting in a subsequent step. It is then consumed as the reaction proceeds, and thus it is also a reactant. Illustrative is the base-catalyzed hydrolysis of esters, where the produced carboxylic acid immediately reacts with the base catalyst and thus the reaction equilibrium is shifted towards hydrolysis.)

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 the 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).

Some so-called catalysts are really precatalysts . Precatalysts convert to catalysts in the reaction. For example, Wilkinson's catalyst 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.

In cooperative catalysis, chemical species that improve catalytic activity are called cocatalysts or promoters.

In tandem catalysis two or more different catalysts are coupled in a one-pot reaction.

In autocatalysis, the catalyst is a product of the overall reaction, in contrast to all other types of catalysis considered in this article. The simplest example of autocatalysis is a reaction of type A + B → 2 B, in one or in several steps. The overall reaction is just A → B, so that B is a product. But since B is also a reactant, it may be present in the rate equation and affect the reaction rate. As the reaction proceeds, the concentration of B increases and can accelerate the reaction as a catalyst. In effect, the reaction accelerates itself or is autocatalyzed. An example is the hydrolysis of an ester such as aspirin to a carboxylic acid and an alcohol. In the absence of added acid catalysts, the carboxylic acid product catalyzes the hydrolysis.

A true catalyst can work in tandem with a sacrificial catalyst. The true catalyst is consumed in the elementary reaction and turned into a deactivated form. The sacrificial catalyst regenerates the true catalyst for another cycle. The sacrificial catalyst is consumed in the reaction, and as such, it is not really a catalyst, but a reagent. For example, osmium tetroxide (OsO4) is a good reagent for dihydroxylation, but it is highly toxic and expensive. In Upjohn dihydroxylation, the sacrificial catalyst N-methylmorpholine N-oxide (NMMO) regenerates OsO4, and only catalytic quantities of OsO4 are needed.


Catalysis may be classified as either homogeneous or heterogeneous. A homogeneous catalysis is one whose components are dispersed in the same phase (usually gaseous or liquid) as the reactant's molecules. A heterogeneous catalysis is one where the reaction components are not in the same phase. Enzymes and other biocatalysts are often considered as a third category. Similar mechanistic principles apply to heterogeneous, homogeneous, and biocatalysis.

Heterogeneous catalysis

The microporous molecular structure of the zeolite ZSM-5 is exploited in catalysts used in refineries Zeolite-ZSM-5-vdW.png
The microporous molecular structure of the zeolite ZSM-5 is exploited in catalysts used in refineries
Zeolites are extruded as pellets for easy handling in catalytic reactors. Ceolite nax.JPG
Zeolites are extruded as pellets for easy handling in catalytic reactors.

Heterogeneous catalysts act in a different phase than the reactants. Most heterogeneous catalysts are solids that act on substrates in a liquid or gaseous reaction mixture. Important heterogeneous catalysts include zeolites, alumina, [18] higher-order oxides, graphitic carbon, transition metal oxides, metals such as Raney nickel for hydrogenation, and vanadium(V) oxide for oxidation of sulfur dioxide into sulfur trioxide by the contact process. [19]

Diverse mechanisms for reactions on surfaces are known, depending on how the adsorption takes place (Langmuir-Hinshelwood, Eley-Rideal, and Mars-van Krevelen). [20] The total surface area of a 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.

A heterogeneous catalyst has active sites, which are the atoms or crystal faces where the substrate actually binds. Active sites are atoms but are often described as a facet (edge, surface, step, etc.) of a solid. Most of the volume but also most of the surface of a heterogeneous catalyst may be catalytically inactive. Finding out the nature of the active site is technically challenging.

For example, the catalyst for the Haber process for the synthesis of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen is often described as iron. But detailed studies and many optimizations have led to catalysts that are mixtures of iron-potassium-calcium-aluminum-oxide. [21] The reacting gases adsorb onto active sites on the iron particles. Once physically adsorbed, the reagents partially or wholly dissociate and form new bonds. In this way the particularly strong triple bond in nitrogen is broken, which would be extremely uncommon in the gas phase due to its high activation energy. Thus, the activation energy of the overall reaction is lowered, and the rate of reaction increases. [22] Another place where a heterogeneous catalyst is applied is in the oxidation of sulfur dioxide on vanadium(V) oxide for the production of sulfuric acid. [19] Many heterogeneous catalysts are in fact nanomaterials.

Heterogeneous catalysts are typically "supported," which means that the catalyst is dispersed on a second material that enhances the effectiveness or minimizes its cost. Supports prevent or minimize agglomeration and sintering of small catalyst particles, exposing more surface area, thus catalysts have a higher specific activity (per gram) on support. 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 can also be used in nanoparticle synthesis by providing sites for individual molecules of catalyst to chemically bind. Supports are porous materials with a high surface area, most commonly alumina, zeolites or various kinds of activated carbon. Specialized supports include silicon dioxide, titanium dioxide, calcium carbonate, and barium sulfate. [23]


In the context of electrochemistry, specifically in fuel cell 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 that are supported on slightly larger carbon particles. When in contact with one of the electrodes in a fuel cell, this platinum increases the rate of oxygen reduction either to water or to hydroxide or hydrogen peroxide.

Homogeneous catalysis

Homogeneous catalysts function in the same phase as the reactants. Typically homogeneous catalysts are dissolved in a solvent with the substrates. One example of homogeneous catalysis involves the influence of H + on the esterification of carboxylic acids, such as the formation of methyl acetate from acetic acid and methanol. [24] High-volume processes requiring a homogeneous catalyst include hydroformylation, hydrosilylation, hydrocyanation. For inorganic chemists, homogeneous catalysis is often synonymous with organometallic catalysts. [25] Many homogeneous catalysts are however not organometallic, illustrated by the use of cobalt salts that catalyze the oxidation of p-xylene to terephthalic acid.


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) than transition metal(-ion)-based catalysts, but these catalysts are usually commercially available in bulk, helping to lower costs. In the early 2000s, these organocatalysts were considered "new generation" and are competitive to traditional metal(-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 into the application of covalent (e.g., proline, DMAP) and non-covalent (e.g., thiourea organocatalysis) organocatalysts referring to the preferred catalyst-substrate binding and interaction, respectively. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021 was awarded jointly to Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan "for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis." [26]


Photocatalysis is the phenomenon where the catalyst can receive light to generate an excited state that effect redox reactions. [27] Singlet oxygen is usually produced by photocatalysis. Photocatalysts are components of dye-sensitized solar cells.

Enzymes and biocatalysts

In biology, enzymes are protein-based catalysts in metabolism and catabolism. Most biocatalysts are enzymes, but other non-protein-based classes of biomolecules also exhibit catalytic properties including ribozymes, and synthetic deoxyribozymes. [28]

Biocatalysts can be thought of as an intermediate between homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts, although strictly speaking soluble enzymes are homogeneous catalysts and membrane-bound enzymes are heterogeneous. Several factors affect the activity of enzymes (and other catalysts) including temperature, pH, the concentration of enzymes, 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.

In biocatalysis, enzymes are employed to prepare many commodity chemicals including high-fructose corn syrup and acrylamide.

Some monoclonal antibodies whose binding target is a stable molecule that resembles the transition state of a chemical reaction can function as weak catalysts for that chemical reaction by lowering its activation energy. [29] Such catalytic antibodies are sometimes called "abzymes".


Left: Partially caramelized cube sugar, Right: burning cube sugar with ash as catalyst Verbrennung eines Zuckerwurfels.png
Left: Partially caramelized cube sugar, Right: burning cube sugar with ash as catalyst
A Ti-Cr-Pt tube (~40 μm long) releases oxygen bubbles when immersed in hydrogen peroxide (via catalytic decomposition), forming a micropump. [30]

Estimates are that 90% of all commercially produced chemical products involve catalysts at some stage in the process of their manufacture. [31] In 2005, catalytic processes generated about $900 billion in products worldwide. [32] Catalysis is so pervasive that subareas are not readily classified. Some areas of particular concentration are surveyed below.

Energy processing

Petroleum refining makes intensive use of catalysis for alkylation, catalytic cracking (breaking long-chain hydrocarbons into smaller pieces), naphtha reforming and steam reforming (conversion of hydrocarbons into synthesis gas). Even the exhaust from the burning of fossil fuels is treated via catalysis: Catalytic converters, typically composed of platinum and rhodium, 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 reactions, catalyzed by iron. The Sabatier reaction produces methane from carbon dioxide and hydrogen. Biodiesel and related biofuels require processing via both inorganic and biocatalysts.

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

Catalytic heaters generate flameless heat from a supply of combustible fuel.

Bulk chemicals

Typical vanadium pentoxide catalyst used in sulfuric acid production for an intermediate reaction to convert sulfur dioxide to sulfur trioxide. CataylstExampleSulfuricAcidPlant.jpg
Typical vanadium pentoxide catalyst used in sulfuric acid production for an intermediate reaction to convert sulfur dioxide to sulfur trioxide.

Some of the largest-scale chemicals are produced via catalytic oxidation, often using oxygen. Examples include nitric acid (from ammonia), sulfuric acid (from sulfur dioxide to sulfur trioxide by the contact process), terephthalic acid from p-xylene, acrylic acid from propylene or propane and acrylonitrile from propane and ammonia. [20]

The production of ammonia is one of the largest-scale and most energy-intensive processes. In the Haber process nitrogen is combined with hydrogen over an iron oxide catalyst. [33] Methanol is prepared from carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide but using copper-zinc catalysts.

Bulk polymers derived from ethylene and propylene are often prepared via Ziegler-Natta catalysis. Polyesters, polyamides, and isocyanates are derived via acid-base catalysis.

Most carbonylation processes require metal catalysts, examples include the Monsanto acetic acid process and hydroformylation.

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 the Heck reaction, and Friedel–Crafts reactions. Because most bioactive compounds are chiral, many pharmaceuticals are produced by enantioselective catalysis (catalytic asymmetric synthesis). (R)-1,2-Propandiol, the precursor to the antibacterial levofloxacin, can be synthesized efficiently from hydroxyacetone by using catalysts based on BINAP-ruthenium complexes, in Noyori asymmetric hydrogenation: [34]

levofloxaxin synthesis Levofloxacin3.png
levofloxaxin synthesis

Food processing

One of the most obvious applications of catalysis is the hydrogenation (reaction with hydrogen gas) of fats using nickel catalyst to produce margarine. [35] Many other foodstuffs are prepared via biocatalysis (see below).


Catalysis affects 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 free radicals in the breakdown of ozone. These radicals are formed by the action of ultraviolet radiation on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Cl· + O3 → ClO· + O2
ClO· + O· → Cl· + O2


The term "catalyst", broadly defined as anything that increases the rate of a process, is derived from Greek καταλύειν, meaning "to annul," or "to untie," or "to pick up". The concept of catalysis was invented by chemist Elizabeth Fulhame and described in a 1794 book, based on her novel work in oxidation–reduction reactions. [7] [8] [36] The first chemical reaction in organic chemistry that knowingly used a catalyst was studied in 1811 by Gottlieb Kirchhoff, who discovered the acid-catalyzed conversion of starch to glucose. The term catalysis was later used by Jöns Jakob Berzelius in 1835 [37] to describe reactions that are accelerated by substances that remain unchanged after the reaction. Fulhame, who predated Berzelius, did work with water as opposed to metals in her reduction experiments. Other 18th century chemists who worked in catalysis were Eilhard Mitscherlich [38] who referred to it as contact processes, and Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner [39] [40] who spoke of contact action. He developed Döbereiner's lamp, a lighter based on hydrogen and a platinum sponge, which became a commercial success in the 1820s that lives on today. Humphry Davy discovered the use of platinum in catalysis. [41] In the 1880s, Wilhelm Ostwald 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. [42] Vladimir Ipatieff performed some of the earliest industrial scale reactions, including the discovery and commercialization of oligomerization and the development of catalysts for hydrogenation. [43]

Inhibitors, poisons, and promoters

An added substance that lowers the rate is called a reaction inhibitor if reversible and catalyst poisons if irreversible. [1] Promoters are substances that increase the catalytic activity, even though they are not catalysts by themselves. [44]

Inhibitors are sometimes referred to as "negative catalysts" since they decrease the reaction rate. [45] However the term inhibitor is preferred since they do not work by introducing a reaction path with higher activation energy; this would not lower the rate since the reaction would continue to occur by the non-catalyzed path. Instead, they act either by deactivating catalysts or by removing reaction intermediates such as free radicals. [45] [11] In heterogeneous catalysis, coking inhibits the catalyst, which becomes covered by polymeric side products.

The inhibitor may modify selectivity in addition to rate. For instance, in the hydrogenation of alkynes to alkenes, a palladium (Pd) catalyst partly "poisoned" with lead(II) acetate (Pb(CH3CO2)2) can be used (Lindlar catalyst). [46] Without the deactivation of the catalyst, the alkene produced would be further hydrogenated to alkane. [47] [48]

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

Promoters can cover up the surface to prevent the 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.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chemical reaction</span> Process that results in the interconversion of chemical species

A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the chemical transformation of one set of chemical substances to another. When chemical reactions occur, the atoms are rearranged and the reaction is accompanied by an energy change as new products are generated. Classically, chemical reactions encompass changes that only involve the positions of electrons in the forming and breaking of chemical bonds between atoms, with no change to the nuclei, and can often be described by a chemical equation. Nuclear chemistry is a sub-discipline of chemistry that involves the chemical reactions of unstable and radioactive elements where both electronic and nuclear changes can occur.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Haber process</span> Industrial process for ammonia production

The Haber process, also called the Haber–Bosch process, is the main industrial procedure for the production of ammonia. The German chemists Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch developed it in the first decade of the 20th century. The process converts atmospheric nitrogen (N2) to ammonia (NH3) by a reaction with hydrogen (H2) using an iron metal catalyst under high temperatures and pressures. This reaction is slightly exothermic (i.e. it releases energy), meaning that the reaction is favoured at lower temperatures and higher pressures. It decreases entropy, complicating the process. Hydrogen is produced via steam reforming, followed by an iterative closed cycle to react hydrogen with nitrogen to produce ammonia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hydrogenation</span> Chemical reaction between molecular hydrogen and another compound or element

Hydrogenation is a chemical reaction between molecular hydrogen (H2) and another compound or element, usually in the presence of a catalyst such as nickel, palladium or platinum. The process is commonly employed to reduce or saturate organic compounds. Hydrogenation typically constitutes the addition of pairs of hydrogen atoms to a molecule, often an alkene. Catalysts are required for the reaction to be usable; non-catalytic hydrogenation takes place only at very high temperatures. Hydrogenation reduces double and triple bonds in hydrocarbons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Heterogeneous catalysis</span> Type of catalysis involving reactants & catalysts in different phases of matter

Heterogeneous catalysis is catalysis where the phase of catalysts differs from that of the reactants or products. The process contrasts with homogeneous catalysis where the reactants, products and catalyst exist in the same phase. Phase distinguishes between not only solid, liquid, and gas components, but also immiscible mixtures, or anywhere an interface is present.

In chemistry, homogeneous catalysis is catalysis where the catalyst is in same phase as reactants, principally by a soluble catalyst a in solution. In contrast, heterogeneous catalysis describes processes where the catalysts and substrate are in distinct phases, typically solid-gas, respectively. The term is used almost exclusively to describe solutions and implies catalysis by organometallic compounds. Homogeneous catalysis is an established technology that continues to evolve. An illustrative major application is the production of acetic acid. Enzymes are examples of homogeneous catalysts.

The water–gas shift reaction (WGSR) describes the reaction of carbon monoxide and water vapor to form carbon dioxide and hydrogen:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Acid catalysis</span> Chemical reaction

In acid catalysis and base catalysis, a chemical reaction is catalyzed by an acid or a base. By Brønsted–Lowry acid–base theory, the acid is the proton (hydrogen ion, H+) donor and the base is the proton acceptor. Typical reactions catalyzed by proton transfer are esterifications and aldol reactions. In these reactions, the conjugate acid of the carbonyl group is a better electrophile than the neutral carbonyl group itself. Depending on the chemical species that act as the acid or base, catalytic mechanisms can be classified as either specific catalysis and general catalysis. Many enzymes operate by general catalysis.

Reductive amination is a form of amination that involves the conversion of a carbonyl group to an amine via an intermediate imine. The carbonyl group is most commonly a ketone or an aldehyde. It is a common method to make amines and is widely used in green chemistry since it can be done catalytically in one-pot under mild conditions. In biochemistry, dehydrogenase enzymes use reductive amination to produce the amino acid, glutamate. Additionally, there is ongoing research on alternative synthesis mechanisms with various metal catalysts which allow the reaction to be less energy taxing, and require milder reaction conditions. Investigation into biocatalysts, such as imine reductases, have allowed for higher selectivity in the reduction of chiral amines which is an important factor in pharmaceutical synthesis.

Nanomaterial-based catalysts are usually heterogeneous catalysts broken up into metal nanoparticles in order to enhance the catalytic process. Metal nanoparticles have high surface area, which can increase catalytic activity. Nanoparticle catalysts can be easily separated and recycled. They are typically used under mild conditions to prevent decomposition of the nanoparticles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Enzyme catalysis</span> Catalysis of chemical reactions by enzymes

Enzyme catalysis is the increase in the rate of a process by a biological molecule, an "enzyme". Most enzymes are proteins, and most such processes are chemical reactions. Within the enzyme, generally catalysis occurs at a localized site, called the active site.

In chemistry, phase-boundary catalysis (PBC) is a type of heterogeneous catalytic system which facilitates the chemical reaction of a particular chemical component in an immiscible phase to react on a catalytic active site located at a phase boundary. The chemical component is soluble in one phase but insoluble in the other. The catalyst for PBC has been designed in which the external part of the zeolite is hydrophobic, internally it is usually hydrophilic, notwithstanding to polar nature of some reactants. In this sense, the medium environment in this system is close to that of an enzyme. The major difference between this system and enzyme is lattice flexibility. The lattice of zeolite is rigid, whereas the enzyme is flexible.

In organometallic chemistry, a migratory insertion is a type of reaction wherein two ligands on a metal complex combine. It is a subset of reactions that very closely resembles the insertion reactions, and both are differentiated by the mechanism that leads to the resulting stereochemistry of the products. However, often the two are used interchangeably because the mechanism is sometimes unknown. Therefore, migratory insertion reactions or insertion reactions, for short, are defined not by the mechanism but by the overall regiochemistry wherein one chemical entity interposes itself into an existing bond of typically a second chemical entity e.g.:

Reactive flash volatilization (RFV) is a chemical process that rapidly converts nonvolatile solids and liquids to volatile compounds by thermal decomposition for integration with catalytic chemistries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Electrocatalyst</span> Catalyst participating in electrochemical reactions

An electrocatalyst is a catalyst that participates in electrochemical reactions. Electrocatalysts are a specific form of catalysts that function at electrode surfaces or, most commonly, may be the electrode surface itself. An electrocatalyst can be heterogeneous such as a platinized electrode. Homogeneous electrocatalysts, which are soluble, assist in transferring electrons between the electrode and reactants, and/or facilitate an intermediate chemical transformation described by an overall half reaction. Major challenges in electrocatalysts focus on fuel cells.

Catalytic oxidation are processes that rely on catalysts to introduce oxygen into organic and inorganic compounds. Many applications, including the focus of this article, involve oxidation by oxygen. Such processes are conducted on a large scale for the remediation of pollutants, production of valuable chemicals, and the production of energy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Catalyst support</span> Porous material with a high specific surface area supporting a catalyst

In chemistry, a catalyst support is a material, usually a solid with a high surface area, to which a catalyst is affixed. The activity of heterogeneous catalysts is mainly promoted by atoms present at the accessible surface of the material. Consequently, great effort is made to maximize the specific surface area of a catalyst. One popular method for increasing surface area involves distributing the catalyst over the surface of the support. The support may be inert or participate in the catalytic reactions. Typical supports include various kinds of activated carbon, alumina, and silica.

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 use in a large portion of the chemical industry. In the start only pure components were used as catalysts, but after the year 1900 multicomponent catalysts were studied and are now commonly used in the industry.

In chemistry, catalytic resonance theory was developed to describe the kinetics of reaction acceleration using dynamic catalyst surfaces. Catalytic reactions occurring on surfaces that undergo variation in surface binding energy and/or entropy exhibit overall increase in reaction rate when the surface binding energy frequencies are comparable to the natural frequencies of the surface reaction, adsorption, and desorption.

Heterogeneous metal catalyzed cross-coupling is a subset of metal catalyzed cross-coupling in which a heterogeneous metal catalyst is employed. Generally heterogeneous cross-coupling catalysts consist of a metal dispersed on an inorganic surface or bound to a polymeric support with ligands. Heterogeneous catalysts provide potential benefits over homogeneous catalysts in chemical processes in which cross-coupling is commonly employed—particularly in the fine chemical industry—including recyclability and lower metal contamination of reaction products. However, for cross-coupling reactions, heterogeneous metal catalysts can suffer from pitfalls such as poor turnover and poor substrate scope, which have limited their utility in cross-coupling reactions to date relative to homogeneous catalysts. Heterogeneous metal catalyzed cross-couplings, as with homogeneous metal catalyzed ones, most commonly use Pd as the cross-coupling metal.

Alexis Tarassov Bell is an American chemical engineer. He is currently the Dow professor of Sustainable Chemistry in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in UC Berkeley's college of chemistry. He is also the Faculty Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is known for his work with heterogenous catalysts and characterizing the mechanisms of these reactions on a quantum level.


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