Definitions

catalyst

catalyst

[kat-l-ist]
catalyst, substance that can cause a change in the rate of a chemical reaction without itself being consumed in the reaction; the changing of the reaction rate by use of a catalyst is called catalysis. Substances that increase the rate of reaction are called positive catalysts or, simply, catalysts, while substances that decrease the rate of reaction are called negative catalysts or inhibitors.

Mechanism of Catalysis

Catalysts work by changing the activation energy for a reaction, i.e., the minimum energy needed for the reaction to occur. This is accomplished by providing a new mechanism or reaction path through which the reaction can proceed. When the new reaction path has a lower activation energy, the reaction rate is increased and the reaction is said to be catalyzed.

If the activation energy for the new path is higher, the reaction rate is decreased and the reaction is said to be inhibited. Inhibitors can provide an interesting challenge to the chemist. For example, because oxygen is an inhibitor of free-radical reactions, many of which are important in the synthesis of polymers, such reactions must be performed in an oxygen-free environment, e.g., under a blanket of nitrogen gas.

In some reactions one of the reaction products is a catalyst for the reaction; this phenomenon is called self-catalysis or autocatalysis. An example is the reaction of permanganate ion with oxalic acid to form carbon dioxide and manganous ion, in which the manganous ion acts as an autocatalyst. Such reactions are potentially dangerous, since the reaction rate may increase to the point of explosion.

Some substances that are not themselves catalysts increase the activity of a catalyst when added with it to some reaction; such substances are called promoters. Alumina is a promoter for iron when it is used to catalyze the reaction of hydrogen and nitrogen to form ammonia. Substances that react with catalysts to reduce or eliminate their effect are called poisons.

Types and Importance of Catalysts

Enzymes: Natural Catalysts

Enzymes are the commonest and most efficient of the catalysts found in nature. Most of the chemical reactions that occur in the human body and in other living things are high-energy reactions that would occur slowly, if at all, without the catalysis provided by enzymes. For example, in the absence of catalysis, it takes several weeks for starch to hydrolyze to glucose; a trace of the enzyme ptyalin, found in human saliva, accelerates the reaction so that starches can be digested. Some enzymes increase reaction rates by a factor of one billion or more.

Enzymes are generally specific catalysts; that is, they catalyze only one reaction of one particular reactant (called its substrate). Usually the enzyme and its substrate have complementary structures and can bond together to form a complex that is more reactive due to the presence of functional groups in the enzyme, which stabilize the transition state of the reaction or lower the activation energy. The toxicity of certain substances (e.g., carbon monoxide and the nerve gases) is due to their inhibition of life-sustaining catalytic reactions in the body.

Laboratory and Industrial Catalysts

Catalysis is also important in chemical laboratories and in industry. Some reactions occur faster in the presence of a small amount of an acid or base and are said to be acid catalyzed or base catalyzed. For example, the hydrolysis of esters is catalyzed by the presence of a small amount of base. In this reaction, it is the hydroxide ion, OH-, that reacts with the ester, and the concentration of the hydroxide ion is greatly increased over that of pure water by the presence of the base. Although some of the hydroxide ions provided by the base are used up in the first part of the reaction, they are regenerated in a later step from water molecules; the net amount of hydroxide ion present is the same at the beginning and end of the reaction, so the base is thought of as a catalyst and not as a reactant.

Finely divided metals are often used as catalysts; they adsorb the reactants onto their surfaces (see adsorption), where the reaction can occur more readily. For example, hydrogen and oxygen gases can be mixed without reacting to form water, but if a small amount of powdered platinum is added to the gas mixture, the gases react rapidly. Hydrogenation reactions, e.g., the formation of hard cooking fats from vegetable oils, are catalyzed by finely divided metals or metal oxides. The commercial preparation of sulfuric acid and nitric acid also depends on such surface catalysis. Other commonly used surface catalysts, in addition to platinum, are copper, iron, nickel, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, silica gel (silicon dioxide), and vanadium oxide.

Any substance of which a small proportion notably affects the reaction rate of a chemical reaction without itself being changed or consumed (see catalysis). One molecule may transform several million reactant molecules a minute. Catalysts may be gaseous, liquid, or solid; they may be inorganic compounds, organic compounds, or complex combinations. They tend to be highly specific, reacting with only one substance or a small set of substances. Substances that reduce the effectiveness of catalysts by altering them or blocking reactants' access to them are called catalyst inhibitors or catalyst poisons. Catalysts are essential to virtually all industrial chemical reactions, especially in petroleum refining and synthetic organic chemical manufacturing. Most solid catalysts are transition elements (metals) or their oxides in finely divided or porous form. In a car's catalytic converter, the platinum catalyst converts unburned hydrocarbons and nitrogen compounds to products less harmful to the environment. Water, especially saltwater, catalyzes oxidation (see oxidation-reduction) and corrosion. Enzymes are among the most active and selective catalysts known.

Learn more about catalyst with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Catalyst is a superhero team appearing in comics published by Dark Horse Comics under the imprint Comics Greatest World. It first appeared in Comics' Greatest World: Golden City Week 4. Important members of the team have included Grace, Law, and Titan.

Team History

Formation: The Warmaker Incident

Warmaker, a former United States soldier turned supervillain, is sent by the government to be imprisoned in The Vault, a super-prison located in Golden City. He escapes (or is allowed to escape by Grace) and begins a rampage.

He faces various heroes. Rebel can fly and shoot energy blasts. Mecha is a tall, yellow, mechanical construct. Titan has flight, speed and superstrength. Ruby has bright red skin and can heal others. Warmarker causes massive amounts of destruction to the city, until Grace arrives to face him.

She easily defeats Warmaker, but Titan attacks him for no reason. Warmaker strikes Titan, knocking him into Rhapsody, the local healer. She falls into a nearby crater and dies of a broken neck.

Warmaker escapes. Grace uses this and the death of Rhapsody as a rallying point. She announces Golden City will secede from the United States of America.

Agents of Change

The US Government then offers Grace a deal; if she eliminates the man alien called Vortex, which had emerged from a strange dimensional rift, they will concede to her succession. She travels to Cinnibar Flats and confronts first Vortex then fights with him against a group of Destroyers. Deciding Vortex’s work is important, Grace returns to Golden City. The United States military then attacks Golden City.

Catalyst then battles the US Army and their armored super-soldier, Grenade. Grenade is killed but not before he releases radiation into the Wheatfield battleground. Grace is then able to use CNN media coverage to force the government to a settlement.

Creative Staff Information(by issue)

Will to Power

Titan leaves the team to work for the government. This begins a downward spiral for him and he becomes progressively more and more demented. Grace takes the command of the situation placing Titan in the Vault, but he escapes and confronts the Catalyst team.

Realizing they are outgunned, Grace sends Titan to face down the man from the Vortex. Then, she teleports to Cinnabar Flats to warn Vortex of Titan’s impending arrival. Titan's attack on the base kills Lt. Anderson a friend of Vortex. Angered, Vortex then kills Titan. He takes Anderson's body and enters the rift, leaving Grace to safeguard the base.

Law

Soon thereafter, Law arrives in Golden City caring the body of a woman who appears to be Grace. Through murder and manipulation Law is able to take control of the city and of Catalyst.

Madison is killed, Mecha and Warmaker leave the city. Rebel, who are in fact two brothers, come into conflict. Rebel-Mark savagely beats Rebel-Matt (placing him in a vegetative state). Eventually Mark is forced to realize he must, at frequent intervals, store his power within his brother's form, a situation that traumatizes him. With Titan already dead and Grace missing, this essentially bring an end to the team.

Return of Grace

However, a rebellion forms in Tent City, led by a mysterious hooded woman (Grace) and consisting of the members of Division 13 and Warmaker. Whether this group ever calls itself Catalyst or not has never been revealed. When Law is killed by a Predator, Grace and her team are there at the scene of his death.

Team Members

Original Team

Grace (AKA The Mighty Grace, Lady Grace)-The teams founder and current leader. She is can create “diamonds” which she uses to teleport herself and others. She is also incredibly strong, able to survive in space without a suit, and can fly.

Madison - Grace's confidant, he was killed by Law during his take over of the team.

Titan (Frank Wells) One of Golden City's first heroes, left to work for the US government.

Rebel (Matt and Mark Morrisette)

Mecha (Art Thomason)

Ruby

Warmaker (Elvis Westbury)

Agents of Law

Law - a villain and Block 13 escapee (the first), he took over Catalyst when Grace disappeared. Killed by a Predator.

Redline

Sabrinna

Additionally, Rebel and Ruby were members of this version of the team.

The Tent City Resistance

Like the original incarnation of Catalyst, this group was led by Grace.

Lamb (Officer Frank Lamb)

Flux

Wraith/Axe Grinder

Voxx

Additionally, Warmaker was a member of this group.

Bibliography

List of Appearances

  • Comics' Greatest World: Golden City Week 1-4
  • Catalyst: Agents of Change 1-7
  • Will to Power 7-9
  • Agents of Law 1-6

Significant Stories

  • Comics' Greatest World: Golden City Week 4 - Team forms
  • Catalyst: Agents of Change 4 - Titan leaves
  • Agents of Law 1 - Law takes over, death of Madison
  • Agents of Law 2 - Warmaker and Mecha leave
  • Agents of Law 6 - Death of Law
Search another word or see catalyston Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature