What is catalytic decomposition?

1 Answer

Catalytic decomposition is when a decomposition reaction occurs with the aide of a catalyst.


A classic example of this is an enzyme lab many biology students complete. The reaction is the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide which is catalyzed by an enzyme called catalase. The reaction is shown below:

#2H_2O_2# -> #2H_2O# + #O_2#

The hydrogen peroxide is broken down to produce water and oxygen gas. If a glowing ember (on a wood splint) is inserted into the test tube where the reaction is taking place will re-ignite due to the high oxygen content in the test tube.

Catalase enzyme reduces the activation energy for this reaction. The lab typically uses catalase enzyme from either beef or chicken liver.

Here is a short video which shows the results of adding catalase enzyme to a test tube filled with hydrogen peroxide.

Catalase is also present in your cells, this is why hydrogen peroxide will bubble and fizz if you use it to clean cuts or scrapes.

Hope this helps!