Theories of Catalysis

There are two theories of catalysis which is described as follows.

(1) Intermediate compound theory

(i) This theory was proposed by Clement and Desormes in 1806. According to this theory, the desired reaction is brought about by a path involving the formation of an unstable intermediate compound, followed by its decomposition into the desired end products with the regeneration of the catalyst.

(ii) The intermediate compound may be formed in either of two ways

(a) When the intermediate compound is reactive and reacts with the other reactants.


(b) When the intermediate is unstable and decomposes to give the final product.


Where, A, B and C are the reactant molecules and X is the molecule of the catalyst. The first type of reaction sums up to,

While the second to, in many cases, the intermediate compounds postulated to be formed are known compounds and often their presence is detected.

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