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Definition - What does Catalyst mean?

A catalyst is a substance that accelerates the speed of a chemical reaction without undergoing any chemical change itself. Catalysts can be classified as: heterogeneous catalysts, electrocatalyists, homogenous catalysts, or organocatalysts.

Safeopedia explains Catalyst

Catalysts can be classified into four categories:

  1. Heterogeneous catalysts: catalysts that are in a different phase to the materials they act upon, e.g. a solid is used to facilitate chemical reactions within a liquid or gaseous mixture
  2. Electrocatalyists: catalysts applied in electrochemistry: e.g. platinum in a fuel cell
  3. Homogenous catalysts: Catalysts in the same phase as the substances they act on e.g. liquids used to catalyze reactions in other liquids
  4. Organocatalysts: organic molecules that have catalytic properties. Enzymes and biocatalysts: organic catalysts that govern metabolism and catabolism

In terms of occupational health and safety, catalysts are associated with two fields: materials safety and cleaner emissions through the use of catalytic converters. Certain catalysts can cause workplace health issues such as skin irritations, and should therefore be handled using appropriate safety precautions. Workplace health and safety as well as environmental regulations may also require the use of catalytic converters to reduce emissions of dangerous pollutants.

This definition was written in the context of EH&S
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