1 minute read


Biological Hydrogenation

Many chemical reactions within the body require the addition of two atoms of hydrogen to a molecule in order to maintain life. These reactions are much more complex than the ones described above, because hydrogen gas is not found in the body. These kinds of reactions require "carrier" molecules, which give up hydrogen atoms to the one undergoing hydrogenation. The catalyst in biological hydrogenation is an enzyme, a complex protein that allows the reaction to take place in the blood, at a moderate temperature, and at a rate fast enough for metabolism to continue.

Hydrogenation reactions can happen to many other types of molecules as well. However, the general features for all of the reactions are the same. Hydrogen atoms add to multiple bonds in the presence of a catalyst, to product a new compound, with new characteristics. This new compound has different properties than the original molecule had.



Bettelheim, Frederick A., and Jerry March. Introduction to General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry. 3rd ed. Fort Worth: Saunders College Publishing, 1991.

Carey, Francis A. Organic Chemistry. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Cross, Wilbur. Petroleum. Chicago: Children's Press, 1983.


Chemicals from Petroleum. London: Audio Learning, 1982. 35mm Film strip.

G. Lynn Carlson


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


—A type of chemical reaction in which two molecules combine to form a single new molecule.


—To attach to the surface of a solid. The more finely divided the solid is, the more molecules can absorb on its surface.


—Any agent that accelerates a chemical reaction without entering the reaction or being changed by it.


—A solid ester of glycerol and long-chain carboxylic acids.

Le Châtelier's principle

—A statement describing the behavior of mixtures undergoing a chemical reaction. This principle states that in a chemical reaction at its steady state, addition of more of a reactant or product will cause the readjustment of concentrations to maintain the steady state.


—A liquid ester of glycerol and long-chain carboxylic acids.


—A term used to describe molecules containing carbon atoms.


—A molecule is said to be saturated if it contains only single bonds, no double or triple bonds.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Hydrazones to IncompatibilityHydrogenation - The Hydrogenation Reaction, Hydrogenation In The Research Laboratory, Hydrogenation In Industry, Biological Hydrogenation