AQA A Level Chemistry

Revision Notes

1.7.6 Catalysts

Maxwell-Boltzmann Distribution Curve - Catalyst

  • Catalysis is the process in which the rate of a chemical reaction is increased, by adding a catalyst
  • A catalyst increases the rate of a reaction by providing the reactants with an alternative reaction pathway which is lower in activation energy than the uncatalysed reaction
  • Catalysts can be divided into two types:
    • Homogeneous catalysts
    • Heterogeneous catalysts
  • Homogeneous means that the catalyst is in the same phase as the reactants
    • For example, the reactants and the catalysts are all in solution
  • Heterogeneous means that the catalyst is in a different phase to the reactants
    • For example, the reactants are gases but the catalyst used is a solid

Reaction Kinetics Catalyst Reaction Pathway, downloadable AS & A Level Chemistry revision notes

The diagram shows that the catalyst allows the reaction to take place through a different mechanism, which has a lower activation energy than the original reaction

Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution curve

  • Catalysts provide the reactants another pathway which has a lower activation energy
  • By lowering Ea, a greater proportion of molecules in the reaction mixture have the activation energy, and therefore have sufficient energy for an effective collision
  • As a result of this, the rate of the catalysed reaction is increased compared to the uncatalyzed reaction

 

Reaction Kinetics Catalyst Boltzmann Distribution, downloadable AS & A Level Chemistry revision notes

The diagram shows that the total shaded area (both dark and light shading) under the curve shows the number of particles with energy greater than the Ea when a catalyst is present. This area is much larger than the dark shaded area which shows the number of particles with energy greater than the Ea without a catalyst

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