The Sabatier Principle Illustrated by Catalytic H2O2 Decomposition on Metal Surfaces

Anders Bo Laursen, Isabela Costinela Man, Ole Trinhammer, Jan Rossmeisl, Søren Dahl

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Heterogeneous catalysis is important in today’s industry. Hence, it is imperative to introduce students to this field and its tools. A new way of introducing one of these tools, the Sabatier principle, via a laboratory exercise is presented. A volcano plot is constructed for the well-known heterogeneous H2O2 catalytic decomposition reaction on various metal foils. The activity per catalyst surface area versus the computationally calculated binding energy of OH groups on the catalysts is plotted. The OH group is identified as the only surface intermediate in an intuitive reaction mechanism, and hence, it is the relevant reactivity parameter. From the calculated binding energies and the reaction mechanism, the volcano peak position is inferred. This work is relevant to introductory levels of chemistry in advanced high school classes and initial levels of university.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)1711-1715
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • High School/Introductory Chemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Rate Law
  • Kinetics
  • Hands-On Learning/Manipulatives
  • First-Year Undergraduate/General
  • Laboratory Instruction
  • Upper-Division Undergraduate
  • Catalysis

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