How do catalysts affect collision theory?

1 Answer
Mar 15, 2014

Catalysts do not affect collision theory, but collision theory explains the effect of catalysts.


Collision theory states particles must collide with a certain minimum energy called the activation energy.

If there is not enough energy, the reaction will not occur.

You can mark the position of activation energy on a distribution curve like this:

Only those particles represented by the area to the right of the activation energy will react when they collide.

To increase the rate of a reaction, you must increase the number of successful collisions.

One way of doing this is to provide an alternative way for the reaction to happen which has a lower activation energy.

In other words, you move the activation energy on the graph like this:

A catalyst has exactly this effect on activation energy. It provides an alternative route for the reaction. That alternative route has lower activation energy so the reaction speeds up