Catalysis

Catalysts are compounds that change the rate of a chemical reaction. They may be positive or negative in effect, Regardless of their actual role in the reaction, they are recoverable in their original form at the end of the reaction. It is impor

SG. J. Schroepfer, M. L. Robins, and R. H. Susag, The Research Program on the Mississippi River in the

Vicinity of Minneapolis and St. Paul, "Advances in Water Pollution Research," vol. I, Pergamon, London, 1964.

tant to remember that catalysts have no influence on the final equilibrium of a reaction. They simply alter the speed with which the equilibrium is attained by changing the activation energy. Positive catalysts have one other property of interest to environmental engineers and scientists. They can initiate and maintain reactions at concentration levels below those at which ordinary reactions would occur.

An example of how catalysts are used is in the control of air pollution. Hydrogen sulfide is catalytically oxidized to sulfur dioxide at concentrations normally incapable of supporting combustion. Catalytic devices are now used to oxidize hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide in the exhaust gases of automobiles, trucks, and buses as one means of controlling smog problems. Enzymes, produced by bacteria and other microorganisms are organic catalysts which permit the occurrence at room temperature of a great many reactions of importance such as hydrolysis, oxidation, and reduction of both inorganic and organic pollutants.

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Guide to Alternative Fuels

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