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Genie in the Bottle

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There are several factors influencing the rate of a chemical reaction. It is essential to understand and to be able to predict the conditions affecting the reaction rate.

A catalyst is a substance which alters the rate of a chemical reaction staying chemically unchanged at the end of the process. Catalysts increase the rate of a chemical reaction by lowering the reaction activation energy and reaching the equilibrium faster.

Wrap a flat-bottom flask in aluminum foil. Add hydrogen peroxide and close the flask until the presentation.

Remove the stopper from the flask and add spoonful of manganese(IV) oxide at once. Stand aside, because a vigorous reaction follows. A large amount of water vapor and oxygen emerges out of the flask.

Hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizing agent; contact with eyes and skin should be avoided. Do not stand over the flask because the reaction is exothermic and the steam forms quickly. Do not hold the flask while demonstrating; after MnO­2 is added to hydrogen peroxide, the flask becomes considerably hot.

In the presence of manganese(IV) oxide, hydrogen peroxide catalytically decomposes to water and oxygen, according to the following equation:


The reaction is exothermic with the energy given off being sufficient for water evaporation; white steam that formed consists of water droplets propelled from the bottle by the oxygen gas.
 
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