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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 6 Issue 4 (2001) pp 221-222

A Colorful Catalysis Demonstration

Ciro S. Parraga, Steven D. Brown, and Thomas G. Richmond*

Department of Chemistry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112
Received June 9, 2000. Accepted August 15, 2000

Published online: 8 June 2001

Abstract. A simple, yet colorful, homogeneous catalysis demonstration is reported. When concentrated H2O2 is added to a yellow-orange aqueous solution of Fe3+, the solution turns black in color. After a brief induction period, exothermic decomposition of H2O2 ensues with the evolution of oxygen gas. As the reaction subsides, the solution returns to the original yellow-orange color. These color changes demonstrate one of the most important (and often most misunderstood by first-year students) concepts of catalysis—although a catalyst may be altered as it participates in a reaction, it is not consumed.

Key Words:  Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; catalysis; exothermic

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail: Richmond@chemistry.utah.edu)

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Issue date: August 3, 2001

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