Catalysis

The rate of many reactions increase in the presence of a catalyst, which itself remains unchanged in quantity and composition afterward. Although the catalyst itself is not transformed, the catalyst speeds up reactions that would occur naturally or promotes reactions that would not occur otherwise. For example, metal ions catalyze the hydrolysis and oxidation reactions in biochemical systems.47 Phenol and phenol derivatives are normally resistant to oxidation in wastewaters, but the reaction can be accomplished by metal-ion catalysis when Fe2+, Mn2+, Cu2+, and Co2+ are combined with chelating agents.48,49 The reactions involved in destroying the aromatic ring in these compounds are complex and more likely to occur during waste pretreatment than as a result of processes in the deep-well environment. Certain metals in the presence of clays can also catalyze the polymerization of phenols and benzenes. Organic reactions that are catalyzed by clay minerals have been reviewed by Laszlo.50

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