Biological And Industrial Catalysts

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Biological and Industrial Catalysts Within the scientific community catalysts are recognised as being fundamental to many processes, both biological and industrial. Though not widely recognised, these substances are vital to existence, and without them there would be no life at all. Within this essay I will investigate how catalysts affect us every day, how they are involved in environmental issues, and how they have both economical and medical benefits. A diagram showing the lock and key model of enzymes. (Chem4kids, 2004) Before discussing the effects and uses of catalysts I should elaborate on what they are. A catalyst is a substance that lowers the activation energy of a chemical reaction. This lowered requirement allows more molecules to participate in a reaction at any given time, increasing the reaction rate. However catalysts are very specific and will only work with particular molecules. (See diagram right.) Biological catalysts, (those produced within the body,) are called enzymes. The vast majority of these are proteins, (polymers of amino acids,) and all are organic, containing carbon bonded to hydrogen. Enzymes have many significant functions and are so important that our bodies reside at 37 degrees just to facilitate them. Within the body, biological catalysts are vital to many processes and without them bodily reactions would be too slow to sustain life. The functions of these substances are both anabolic and catabolic. Some examples of catabolic enzymes are pepsin, a substance released in the stomach to degrade proteins and the many catalysts involved in cellular respiration, a bio-chemical pathway similar to photosynthesis. An example of an anabolic, enzyme-facilitated process would be the production of proteins, which involves catalysts shaping and assembling structures of amino acids. Catalysts are important not only to living

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