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Activation energy

The amount by which the energy of reactants must be raised for reaction to take place



A substance with pain-relieving properties



Compounds based on the “benzene ring”


Atom economy

The proportion of reactant atoms that appear in the desired product



Apparatus used for small-scale reactions in a contained environment, usually at high pressure



Catalysed reactions where the catalyst is an enzyme



Chemical reaction carried out using biological catalysts


Candida rugosa

A fungus used in biocatalysis



(“Carbo – cation”, not “carbocashun”!) A positive ion formed from an organic molecule


Cat cracker

“Catalytic cracker” – industrial scale equipment used to break large alkane molecules from fractional distillation of oil into smaller molecules


Chemical promoter

A substance which, though not itself a catalyst, improves the effectiveness of the catalyst by chemical means



Term used to describe molecules that contain a carbon atom that is surrounded by four different groups, allowing for isomers that are mirror-images (leading to optical isomerism)



A second catalyst used in conjunction with another



Monomer molecules used in addition to main monomer when making a polymer (introduces controlled branching)



Breaking large alkane molecules from heavier oil fractions into smaller ones



Polymer chains sliding over one another in a plastic, leading to a change in dimensions

  Diffraction An interference effect that leads to the scattering of beams of electromagnetic radiation and small particles (like electrons) in specific directions - used to help determine structure


Two mirror-image molecules



A group of catalysts using clay supports



A catalyst of biological origin



The first of the metallocenes, transition metal complexes consisting of a metal atom “sandwiched” between two 5-membered rings


Fuel Cell

Electrochemical cell used to generate electricity from fuels



High Density Poly(ethene)


Heterogeneous catalysis

Catalysed reactions in which the catalyst and reactants are in different phases (solid, liquid or gas)


Homogeneous catalysis

Catalysed reactions in which the catalyst and reactants are in the same phase (solid, liquid or gas)

  IR Spectrum Infra-red radiation can cause a molecule to vibrate, absorbing energy, and the frequencies at which this happens is different for each substance. A spectrum can be produced showing the frequencies at which absorption occurs, effectively a fingerprint for the material.


The characteristic of substances that have the same formula, but different structures



Walter Kaminsky developed catalysts based on metallocenes



A nylon-based fibre with exceptional strength – used to make bullet-proof vests, tyres, heat resistant fabrics



Low density poly(ethene)


Lewis acid

A substance that is an electron-pair acceptor



Linear low density poly(ethene)



Methylalumoxane – formed during activation of a metallocene catalyst for  the production of poly(ethene)



Transition metal complexes consisting of metal atoms “sandwiched” between 5-membered rings



A type of clay used as catalyst support in Friedel-Crafts alkylation



Technology that is on a molecular (or strictly nanometre) scale



Developer of organo-metallic catalysts for production of plastics – shared Nobel Prize with Ziegler


Optical isomerism

Isomerism as a result of a molecule existing in two mirror-image forms (which affect polarised light differently).  The two isomers are referred to as the L- and D- isomers, or alternatively as the (R) and (S) forms



Organic compounds that also include one or more metal atoms



“Polyethylene terephthalate” (polyethene benzene – 1,4- dicarboxylate) – used to make lightweight plastic bottles



Poly(ethene) Note that Polythene is an ICI trade name



A substance which, though not itself a catalyst, improves the effectiveness of the catalyst – promoters may act chemically or physically


Protecting groups

Groups of atoms that are placed temporarily on parts of a molecule which need to be protected from a reagent to be used in one of the synthetic steps needed to make the final product . These protecting groups are removed afterwards.


Racemic mixture

An equal mixture of the two optical isomers of a compound, being therefore optically inactive



The process of producing an equal mixture of the two optical isomers of a compound


Recombinant DNA techniques

 These are a variety of techniques used to analyse and manipulate DNA. They include methods to modify genes and construct new genes. The techniques also include ways to express new and modified genes to yield protein products.



The process of synthesising a suitable material from another less suitable one


Rhodococcus rhodochrous

A bacterium used to provide the enzymes used in the biocatalytic manufacture of Propeneamide.  This bacterium is able to use organic substances as its sole source of carbon for growth



The fusing of individual solid particles caused by heating.

  Spectroscopy Methods for analysing materials based on how the reflection or transmission of radiation (eg light, IR etc) is affected by the material

Stereo selective

Reacting mainly with only one optical isomer



In the proportions indicated by the chemical equation


Structural promoter

A substance which, though not itself a catalyst, improves the effectiveness of the catalyst by providing a suitable structure


Supercritical CO2

Carbon dioxide at a temperature and pressure such that distinct liquid and gas phases do not occur



Tetraacetyl ethylenediamine is used in some washing powder detergents to enable peroxide-based bleaches to work at lower temperatures



A metallocene compound containing the metal titanium



Ultra High Molecular Weight Poly(ethene)



A group of aluminosilicate materials, some of which occur in nature. They are widely used as catalysts and as catalyst supports.



Developer of organo-metallic catalysts (known as Ziegler Catalysts) for production of plastics – shared Nobel Prize with Natta



A metallocene compound containing the metal zirconium