ED YOUNG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ED YOUNG / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Oil industry catalyst. Powdered catalyst being poured into a hand at an oil refinery. Alumina- silica gel powders are used as catalysts to break up (crack) the heavier components (fractions) of crude oil into lighter, more valuable fractions, such as petrol. A catalyst is a substance which speeds up a chemical reaction without itself undergoing a chemical change. The catalyst is powdered to maximise its effectiveness by increasing the surface area over which reactions can take place.
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