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ERIC Number: EJ921594
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jan
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Heterogeneous Catalysis: On Bathroom Mirrors and Boiling Stones
Philipse, Albert P.
Journal of Chemical Education, v88 n1 p59-62 Jan 2011
Though heterogeneous nucleation of liquid droplets on a smooth surface (such as a bathroom mirror) is a classical topic in nucleation theory, it is not well-known that this topic is actually a pedagogical example of heterogeneous catalysis: the one and only effect of the surface is to lower the activation Gibbs energy of droplet formation. In contrast to, for example, catalysis involving molecular reactions, the lowering of the activation barrier can be calculated with basic thermodynamics. This is an instructive exercise for a physical chemistry course that also explains to students why boiling stones have to be added to distillation vessels. (Contains 2 figures.)
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A