Lower temperatures may be required when a suitable catalyst is used. The energy needed to manufacture a product can be reduced, and this will often lower costs as well as being environmentally desirable. Using less energy will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

The use of a catalyst lowers the activation energy for the process. This is the main reason lower temperatures can often be used.

diagram: lower activation energy


The production of ammonia by the Haber Process makes use of the reaction between nitrogen and hydrogen. Early work by Le Chatelier showed it could be done, but it was the development of a suitable catalyst by Fritz Haber that led to a technically feasible process. Find out more from the section on ammonia.

chemical equation: making ammonia

Ethanoic acid

The Monsanto and Cativa processes for the production of ethanoic acid use the same reactants, methanol and carbon monoxide. The newer iridium catalyst (Cativa process) has greatly reduced the energy requirement. See the ethanoic acid section for more details.

diagram: catalysts used in ethanoic acid manufacture

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