Sample Essay on Catalyst


In etymological terms, the phrase catalyst is formed in English (1902), which was carved from a combination of two Greek words, ‘’Kata’’ and ‘’lysis’’ meaning ‘’down’’ and ‘’loosening’’ respectively. As an ambiguous noun, the misconception of catalyst is commonly through a definition that simply defines it as a substance that increases the rate of reaction. Somorjai & Li (2010) define a catalyst as a substance that is added in order to alter the rate of a chemical reaction without experiencing any significant change. This implies that a catalyst can increase the rate a chemical reaction, negative catalysts however, lower the process. For example, Zhou, Hermans & Somorjai (2003) argue that enzymes that are found in saliva speed up the rate at which food is digested. A catalyst can also refer to a person or group of people whose presence agitate a critical change or impact the occurrence of a significant event without necessarily suffering from the consequences. For instance, in the event that a person or a group causes critical government reforms to occur, he or she plays the role of a catalyst of the auspicious event through spearheading and mobilization of others to take an active step towards the success of the intended objective. Cline (2012) points out that a catalyst can also be defined from a negative aspect based on the result of the action triggered by it. For example, a decision for a bombing attack is considered as a catalyst for war.

This essay gives a comprehensive definition of a catalyst while also providing exhaustive and relevant information about a catalyst and its benefits in human life.

As a substance that changes the rate of a chemical reaction without undergoing any alteration, a catalyst stays the same in both chemical and mass composition despite having a significant change in other substances. Zhou, Hermans & Somorjai (2003) argue that a catalyst ensures that processes run a required in order to achieve the desired products and the fact that they make processes more efficient and increase the speed of production of chemical substances, it remains a crucial substance in chemical reactions. Catalysts are usually used in small amounts despite the huge chemicals that are involved, and they still serve their functions best at optimum temperature after which their impact is slowed. Besides, catalysts play a critical role with regards to energy consumption in various industries since they ensure that chemical reactions occur at the minimum temperature than it would have required in the absence of a catalyst. In large industries where chemical reactions are inevitable, catalysts are relied upon to save on the consumption of energy by enabling chemical reactions to occur at a higher rate or lower rate at minimum temperatures. This helps the companies in saving up energy costs, thereby maximizing profits.

It should be noted that catalysts do not start a reaction and cannot make a reaction that is impossible to take place. They are designed for use in particular reactions and cannot be used to change a reaction which is recommended for their application since this will significantly affect the resultant products. Thus, industries that manufacture catalysts for use in various chemical reactions label each chemical and the reactants that can be used with them. As indicated by Zhou, Hermans & Somorjai (2003), catalysts can be in the form of solids, liquids or gases based on the nature of the reaction that they are designed to be applied. Catalysts are used in almost all chemical reactions where they either increase or lower the rate of reaction depending on the needs at the end of the every process. However, they are mainly used to speed up the efficiency or effectiveness of a process as well as reducing other potential effects in a chemical reaction.

For instance, the catalytic converter in a car is made up of platinum, which is used as a catalyst purposely for Proofreading-Editingconverting unburned compounds that are harmful if released into the environment, in an attempt to ensure that they are less harmful. The oxidation process takes place rapidly in the presence of salty water whereby the salty water acts as a catalyst to speed up the oxidation process. A catalyst in real life can be likened to an individual who incites or aggravates others into taking spontaneous actions for something to occur. Such a person is considered as a catalyst because of the fact that he or she causes an event to occur although the occurrence of the same situation will not affect him or her in any way. The similarities between a substance catalyst and a person who behaves in the same way depends on their nature since they both trigger something to occur faster or slow it down, based on the intended result. Cline (2012) says that if for instance a high school principal may be committed to encouraging his or her students to work hard in class work by giving them the relevant resources that will impact success even though the success will only benefit the students and not the teacher or principal is a catalyst. His or her actions enable the students to have the confidence and determination to study and perform well in their examinations.

According to Somorjai & Li (2010), a catalyst makes something to take place at the desired rate or speed. It may slow down or speed up a similar process based on the nature of the catalyst. For instance, if there was intense argument between two people or groups, there is a possibility of another person coming in to incite them to fight. In such a situation, the third party that incited the individuals to fight serves as a positive catalyst by provoking the fight. A provocative speech given by an individual bevy on a people in an attempt to act in accordance with their wish renders such an individual a catalyst. For example, if associations of people like a workers’ union want to protest over an issue, they may be reluctant in taking action. However, in the event that a single person who is not a member of the union but feel concerned takes the lead to provoke them to take action in a bid to make their voices heard, the person is called a catalyst because he or she mobilized the members towards protesting immediately.

However, if the third party intervenes and tries to calm down the protesters in order to avoid imminent fights, he or she is considered a negative catalyst. It a catalyst suddenly disappears; the expected results may not be achieved with the rate at which it was anticipated since the result may take long or short period of time. Catalysts are mostly preferred for correcting a situation by either slowing down or speeding up the same rate. This is always relative to the expected products upon the completion of the process. The term is commonly used in academic discipline, especially in chemistry and English. In chemistry, it mainly appears in chemical reaction processes. As pointed out by Zhou, Hermans & Somorjai (2003), in today’s commercially produced chemical products; catalysts play a critical role in one or two of the processes required in the production. The use of catalysts also helps in reducing the level of environmental pollution by reducing the harmful impacts of certain substances released into the air. Besides, many foodstuffs are manufactured using catalysts, which would otherwise not been achieved.

This essay has given an in-depth description of a catalyst through a relevant approach to bring out its etymological application. The essay emphasizes that the term catalyst was achieved through the combination of two Greek words, ‘kata’ and ‘lysis’ which mean ‘down’ and ‘loosening’ respectively in 1902. As illustrated, a catalyst is an ambiguous noun which simply implies an alteration on a process in order to obtain the anticipated results. The easy has also unveiled the negative definition of the word, which is always wrong while also giving an anecdote about it. The definition of the term revolves around its description, a narration involving the word, processes that are related to it, the causes and effects of a catalyst and examples in real life situations and also academic disciplines.

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Cline, M. (2012). Virtual Reality: a Catalyst for Social and Economic Change. New York:Mychilo Cline.

Somorjai, G. A., & Li, Y. (2010). Introduction to Surface Chemistry and Catalysis. London:John Wiley & Sons.

Zhou, B., Hermans, S., & Somorjai, G. A. (2003). Nanotechnology in Catalysis Volumes 1 and 2, Volume 1. New York: Springer.