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2H2O Decomposition

             This experiment is designed to see how temperature affects the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide by the enzyme catalase. .
             Scientific Knowledge.
             Enzymes are biological catalysts. They are produced in all living organisms and control all the chemical reactions that occur. Most of the chemical reactions that occur in living organisms would occur too slowly without enzymes. Increased temperatures would speed up reactions but using enzymes means that the reactions are fast enough at body temperature. Enzymes are protein molecules that have a particular shape. They have a slot or a groove into which the substrate fits. The reaction then takes place and the products leave the enzyme. .
             This explains why enzymes are specific. Each enzyme is designed to fit only one substrate. .
             Catalase is a very fast reacting enzyme; it is found in many living cells, it breaks down hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. One molecule of it can break down 6million molecules of hydrogen peroxide in 1 minute. Hydrogen peroxide needs to be broken down into harmless substances to protect the body from it as it is toxic. Hydrogen peroxide is a problem for all living cells as it is a by product of a number of chemical reactions that take place in each cell. Catalase is present in nearly all aerobic cells. It serves to protect the cell from the toxic effects of hydrogen peroxide. This is done by enabling the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into its molecular oxygen and water constituents without, the production of free radicals. The effects of the experiment are illustrated below:.
             Hydrogen peroxide .
             water + oxygen.
             2H2O (aq) .
             2H2O (l) + O2 (g).
             If the decomposition process free radicals, i.e. an atom or group of atoms with an unpaired electron, were produced this may be harmful to the cell. This is because radicals are unusually reactive and are capable of causing a wide range of biological damage. In this experiment the effects of temperature speed up the action of the enzyme catalase in breaking down hydrogen peroxide.

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