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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 29 (2024) pp 56-66

Nonlinear Chemical Dynamics: Catalytic Surface Oxidation

Russell G. Blakey, Lesly Mejia, Enrique Peacock-Lopez*

Department of Chemistry, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 02167, USA,
Received July 24, 2023. Accepted October 2, 2023.

Published: 5 February 2024

Abstract. The oxidation of carbon monoxide over platinum is a relevant industrial reaction found in almost every automobile. This chemical process is essential to reduce the amount of carbon monoxide in our atmosphere. This oxidation chemical reaction has been studied since the early 70s under different conditions, and one of the interesting dynamic properties is the existence of the so-called chemical oscillations. Most physical chemistry textbooks rarely discuss chemical oscillations at length, but educational chemical journals provide a series of articles on the topic. In these articles, the presentations are usually oversimplified but provide a starting point to study more complex systems. In particular, the oxidation of carbon monoxide on platinum is an excellent example of an industrial reaction connected to our everyday life, which follows a straightforward mechanism. Still, the common manipulations required to get a simple system of dimensionless ordinary differential equations have not been addressed in detail in educational publications. In this article, we consider every step, from the mechanism to the set of dimensionless ordinary differential equations, which allow us to study the dynamic properties of the chemical system.

Key Words: In the Classroom; phyical chemistry; oxidation of carbon monoxide; platinum; chemical oscillations

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail: )

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