Difference Between Biocatalyst and Chemical Catalyst

Biocatalyst is also known as an enzyme and chemical catalyst is also known as an inorganic catalyst.

Biocatalysts are made of only organic parts (simple enzyme) or both organic and inorganic parts (Conjugated enzyme/holoenzyme).

The presence of a catalyst in any reaction, either in a living system or in a non-living system is vital and plays an important role in the conversion of reactant into the product.

The enzyme (Biocatalyst) increases the rate of reaction by lowering down the activation energy of that reaction or process. In presence of a catalyst low activation energy is needed to complete the reaction.

You can compare the two catalysts by their catalytic power or speed of reaction in presence of the two catalysts.

Biocatalyst (Enzyme) v/s Chemical catalyst (Inorganic catalyst):

Enzyme (Biocatalyst):

Enzyme provides an orientation to the reactant molecule to collide effectively.
The catalytic power of enzymes remains the same even outside the living system.
Enzyme when not in use, represent inactive form, called zymogen or pro-enzyme, Pepsinogen is an inactive form of pepsin similarly, a trypsinogen is an inactive form of trypsin.

Enzymes are thermo-sensitive, pH-sensitive, pressure-sensitive, inhibitor sensitive, and get damaged at high temperatures (normally above 40degree C) means they have a narrow range of tolerance to these factors.

Few exceptions are also present, enzymes like Taq polymerase found in thermophilic organisms living under extremely high-temperature environments for example in sulfur springs, hot vents, … are stable and they don’t lose their catalytic power even at that high-temperature range.

Examples of biocatalysts:

  • Lysozyme
  • Catalase
  • Carbonic anhydrase, …

Chemical catalyst (Inorganic catalyst):

Chemical catalysts are completely made of inorganic or mineral elements.

They are less sensitive to temperature, pressure, and pH and work efficiently at high temperatures, and high-pressure means have a high range of tolerance to these factors.

These catalysts are not found in the living system, they are only made by artificial means.

Examples of chemical catalysts:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Nickel
  • Platinum
  • Palladium
  • Zeolites, …

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