The key difference between organic and inorganic catalysts is that organic catalysts essentially include C, H, and O atoms in the chemical structure, whereas inorganic catalyst does not essentially contain C, H, and O atoms in the chemical structure.
A catalyst is a chemical species that involves in a chemical reaction to increase the reaction rate but does not get consumed during the reaction. There are four types of catalysts; they are homogeneous, heterogeneous, heterofenized, and biocatalysts.
What are Organic Catalysts?
Organic catalysts are catalysts that have an organic chemical structure that can involve in a chemical reaction to increase the rate of the reaction. These catalysts are involved in organocatalysis processes. It is therefore known as an organocatalyst as well. It consists of carbon, hydrogen, sulfur, and other chemical elements, which are nonmetals that can be found in organic compounds.
Organic catalysts are often mistaken as a misnomer for enzymes due to their similarity in chemical composition and description. These compounds have comparable effects on the reaction rates and the forms of catalysis involved in the reaction.
The process of organocatalysis displays secondary amine functionality. We can describe it as performing either enamine catalysis or iminium catalysis.
Enamine catalysis – by forming catalytic quantities of an active enamine nucleophile.
Iminium catalysis – by forming catalytic quantities of an activated iminium electrophile.
These mechanisms are usually typical for covalent organocatalysis.
There are several different benefits of using organic catalysts. It does not require metal-based catalysis; therefore, it makes a contribution to green chemistry. Moreover, simple organic acids have been useful as catalysts for the modification of cellulose in water on a multi-tin scale. Furthermore, if the organic catalyst is chiral, it opens up an avenue to asymmetric catalysis, such as in proline involved in aldol reactions.
Moreover, regular achiral organic catalysts have nitrogen in the form of piperidine that is used in Knoevenagel condensation.
What are Inorganic Catalysts?
Inorganic catalysts are catalytic compounds that have an inorganic chemical structure and help in a chemical reaction to increase the rate of the reaction. These are also known as heterogeneous catalysts. They support metals that emulate the exquisite function of enzymes. A good example of an inorganic catalyst includes potassium permanganate.
In the presence of potassium permanganate, hydrogen peroxide can decompose into water and oxygen gas with a high reaction rate, and this reaction gives two moles of water and one mole of oxygen when two hydrogen peroxide molecules are used.
Usually, this type of catalyst is made of metals and metal oxides. This is because of the high thermal stability. Thermal stability is required by many industrial applications.
What is the Difference Between Organic and Inorganic Catalysts?
There are different types of catalysts that we can use to enhance a chemical reaction. The key difference between organic and inorganic catalysts is that organic catalysts essentially include C, H, and O atoms in the chemical structure, whereas inorganic catalyst does not essentially contain C, H, and O atoms in the chemical structure. Enzymes like kinases, invertase, and polymerase are organic catalysts, whereas metals like palladium, cobalt, and copper are inorganic catalysts. Moreover, organic catalysts can be synthesized in living cells or made artificially, whereas inorganic catalysts cannot be synthesized in living cells so made only artificially.
The below infographic presents the differences between organic and inorganic catalysts in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Organic vs Inorganic Catalysts
The key difference between organic and inorganic catalysts is that organic catalysts essentially include C, H, and O atoms in the chemical structure, whereas inorganic catalyst does not contain C, H, and O atoms essentially in the chemical structure. Both types of catalysts help to enhance a chemical reaction
1. “Inorganic Catalysts.” Merck.
1. “Liebig oxamid synthese erste organokat Reaktion” By Mike Kotke at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Ronhjones using CommonsHelper. (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia