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Catalyst vs. Enzyme: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sawaira Riaz || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 20, 2023
A catalyst accelerates chemical reactions without being consumed; an enzyme is a biological catalyst made of proteins.

Key Differences

A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change. This means it is not consumed in the reaction and can be reused. Enzymes, on the other hand, are specific types of catalysts found in living organisms. They facilitate and accelerate various biochemical reactions essential for life.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023
While catalysts can be inorganic or organic and are utilized in various industrial and chemical processes, enzymes are strictly organic, primarily composed of proteins. An enzyme's specificity and functionality are due to its intricate three-dimensional structure, which allows it to interact with specific molecules called substrates. A catalyst, in contrast, may work on a broader range of reactions without such molecular precision.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023
Both catalysts and enzymes play a pivotal role in making reactions more efficient. The key distinction is in their realms of application. Catalysts dominate the industrial and synthetic world, speeding up reactions for manufacturing, energy production, and pollution control. Enzymes rule the biological domain, ensuring metabolic processes occur at rates suitable for life.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023
The sensitivity of enzymes is notable. Their activity can be influenced by factors such as temperature, pH, and the presence of inhibitors. While many catalysts are also sensitive to specific conditions, enzymes, given their biological nature, often have narrower optimal conditions. Catalysts, being more diverse, might be metals, ceramics, or even other organic compounds, each with its unique set of operational conditions.
Harlon Moss
Oct 20, 2023
It's worth noting that while all enzymes are catalysts, not all catalysts are enzymes. The term "catalyst" encompasses a broader array of substances, while "enzyme" refers specifically to those catalysts that operate within the realm of biology.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 20, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Definition

Substance that accelerates chemical reactions
Biological catalyst made of proteins
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Nature

Can be inorganic or organic
Strictly organic (protein-based)
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Specificity

Can be general or specific
Highly specific to its substrate
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Domain of Action

Found in industrial/chemical processes
Found in biological processes within organisms
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

Sensitivity

Varied sensitivity to conditions
Sensitive to temperature, pH, inhibitors, etc.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023
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Catalyst and Enzyme Definitions

Catalyst

A substance that speeds up reactions.
The platinum in car exhaust systems acts as a catalyst.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 20, 2023

Enzyme

A protein that catalyzes biochemical reactions.
Lactase enzyme breaks down lactose in milk.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 20, 2023

Catalyst

A facilitator for transformation in substances.
In the experiment, the catalyst lowered the activation energy.
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

Enzyme

A biological molecule promoting specific reactions.
The enzyme attached to its substrate, initiating the reaction.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Catalyst

An agent that prompts change without being altered.
The announcement was the catalyst for the stock market surge.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 20, 2023

Enzyme

A specific activator in cellular reactions.
The presence of the enzyme ensured the digestion of fats.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Catalyst

An accelerator for chemical processes.
The research team sought a new catalyst for the synthesis.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Enzyme

An organic catalyst in living beings.
Without the enzyme, the metabolic process would be too slow.
Harlon Moss
Oct 20, 2023

Catalyst

A compound that isn't consumed in the reaction.
Using a catalyst ensures the production process is cost-effective.
Harlon Moss
Oct 20, 2023

Enzyme

A facilitator for transformations in organisms.
The plant enzyme aided in converting sunlight to energy.
Janet White
Oct 20, 2023

Catalyst

(Chemistry) A substance, usually used in small amounts relative to the reactants, that modifies and increases the rate of a reaction without being consumed in the process.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 05, 2020

Enzyme

(Christianity) leavened bread, as opposed to azyme
Sumera Saeed
Feb 05, 2020

Catalyst

One that precipitates a process or event, especially without being involved in or changed by the consequences
"A free press ... has remained ... a vital catalyst to an informed and responsible electorate" (Robert O'Neal).
Sumera Saeed
Feb 05, 2020

Enzyme

A protein produced by a living organism, capable of catalyzing a chemical reaction. Almost all processes in living organisms require some form of enzyme to cause the reactions to occur at a rate sufficient to support life. There are a very wide variety of enzymes, each specifically catalyzing a different chemical reaction, the sum of which cause the bulk of the physiological changes observed as life processes. Enzymes, like most proteins, are synthesized by the protein-synthetic mechanism of the living cell, at special sites on ribosomes, using the genetic information in messenger RNA transcribed from the genetic instructions stored as nuleotide sequences in the DNA (or in some viruses, the RNA) of the genome. Some examples of enzymes are: pepsin, diastase, rennet, DNA polymerase, invertase, glucose oxidase, protease, and ribonuclease. There are many other types of enzyme.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 05, 2020

Enzyme

Any of several complex proteins that are produced by cells and act as catalysts in specific biochemical reactions
Sumera Saeed
Feb 05, 2020

FAQs

Are there inorganic catalysts?

Yes, many industrial catalysts are inorganic.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 20, 2023

Can catalysts be harmful?

Some catalysts can be toxic or reactive and must be handled with care.
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

Are there inhibitors for enzymes?

Yes, inhibitors can reduce or halt enzyme activity.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 20, 2023

Are all enzymes catalysts?

Yes, all enzymes are catalysts, but not all catalysts are enzymes.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Can catalysts be reused?

Yes, catalysts are not consumed in reactions and can be reused.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 20, 2023

Can enzymes be denatured?

Yes, enzymes can lose their structure and function under extreme conditions.
Janet White
Oct 20, 2023

Can we artificially produce enzymes?

Yes, enzymes can be produced through recombinant DNA technology.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Can enzymes be used outside the body?

Yes, enzymes are used in industries like brewing, baking, and detergent manufacturing.
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

Do all reactions need catalysts?

No, but catalysts can make reactions faster or more efficient.
Janet White
Oct 20, 2023

Do enzymes work on all reactions?

No, enzymes are highly specific to particular reactions or substrates.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Are enzymes only found in animals?

No, enzymes are found in all living organisms, including plants and microorganisms.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Do catalysts change the reaction's end products?

No, catalysts only speed up reactions; they don't change the final outcome.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

Can we recover catalysts after a reaction?

Often, yes. Many industrial processes recycle and reuse catalysts.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

How are enzymes named?

Enzymes are often named for their substrate with the suffix "-ase" (e.g., lactase).
Sara Rehman
Oct 20, 2023

Can a substance act as both an enzyme and a non-enzymatic catalyst?

While enzymes are catalysts, they function within biological contexts; outside that, they wouldn't act as typical industrial or chemical catalysts.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 20, 2023

What can affect enzyme activity?

Temperature, pH, inhibitors, and substrate concentration can influence enzyme activity.
Janet White
Oct 20, 2023

Why are catalysts important in industry?

Catalysts increase reaction rates, making processes faster and more economical.
Harlon Moss
Oct 20, 2023

What's an enzyme's active site?

It's the region on an enzyme where the substrate binds and the reaction occurs.
Janet White
Oct 20, 2023

Are enzymes sensitive to temperature changes?

Yes, enzymes have optimal temperatures; too high or low can reduce their activity.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 20, 2023

How do catalysts speed up reactions?

Catalysts lower the activation energy required for a reaction to proceed.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 20, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.

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