Laboratory Report: Enzyme Catalysis

Categories: Chemistry


Enzymes are biological catalysts that play a crucial role in speeding up biochemical reactions. In this experiment, we investigate the effect of the enzyme catalase on the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The rate of this reaction is determined under various conditions, including pH, temperature, and substrate concentration. Our findings demonstrate the importance of specific environmental factors in enzyme activity and provide insights into the catalytic function of catalase.


Enzymes are proteins produced by living cells that act as catalysts, facilitating biochemical reactions by lowering the activation energy required.

They do so by providing a specific environment in which a substrate molecule can bind to the enzyme's active site, forming an enzyme-substrate complex. This complex undergoes a series of reactions, ultimately leading to the formation of the desired product. Enzymes are highly specific, with each active site being unique to a particular substrate, and they remain unchanged and reusable throughout the reaction.

The general reversible reaction involving enzymes can be represented as follows:

E + S ⇌ ES → E + P

Enzyme activity is influenced by various factors, including pH, temperature, substrate and product concentrations, and the presence of activators and inhibitors.

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Maintaining the optimal conditions for enzyme activity is crucial for their effectiveness.

Factors Affecting Enzyme Activity

Salt Concentration: Enzymes require an intermediate salt concentration to function effectively. Too low a salt concentration causes enzyme side chains to attract each other, forming an inactive precipitate, while excessive salt concentration can block enzyme reactions.

pH: Enzymes exhibit optimal activity at a neutral pH (around 7 on the pH scale).

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Deviations from this pH range can lead to denaturation of the enzyme, altering its active site and reducing its effectiveness.

Temperature: Enzymes have temperature optima, beyond which they denature. Operating at their optimal temperature ensures maximum catalytic efficiency.

Substrate and Product Concentrations: Enzyme activity follows the law of mass action, where the direction of a reaction depends on the concentration of reactants and products.

Activators and Inhibitors: Activators enhance enzyme activity by improving the fit between the enzyme's active site and the substrate. Inhibitors, on the other hand, bind to the enzyme's active site, preventing substrate binding and slowing down the reaction.

In this experiment, we focus on the enzyme catalase, which plays a vital role in preventing the accumulation of toxic hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Catalase facilitates the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide into water (H2O) and oxygen (O2):

2H2O2 → 2H2O + O2

While this decomposition occurs spontaneously without catalase, the enzyme significantly accelerates the reaction. The objective of this lab is to confirm the catalytic activity of catalase in the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide and to quantify the rate of this reaction under varying conditions.

Materials and Methods


  • Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)
  • Catalase enzyme solution
  • pH buffers
  • Thermometer
  • Test tubes
  • Test tube rack
  • Stopwatch
  • Water bath

Experimental Procedure

  1. Prepare a set of test tubes with different pH levels (acidic, neutral, and basic) using pH buffers.
  2. Label the test tubes accordingly.
  3. Place the test tubes in a test tube rack.
  4. Using a thermometer, measure and record the initial temperature of each test tube.
  5. Add a fixed volume of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to each test tube.
  6. Add catalase enzyme solution to each test tube.
  7. Start the stopwatch and record the time it takes for the appearance of oxygen bubbles in each test tube as a measure of the reaction rate.
  8. Repeat the experiment at different temperatures, ranging from below the enzyme's temperature optimum to above it.
  9. Repeat the experiment with varying concentrations of hydrogen peroxide to investigate the effect of substrate concentration on enzyme activity.


The experimental results are summarized in the following tables:

Effect of pH on Catalase Activity

pH Level Initial Temperature (°C) Reaction Time (seconds)
Acidic (pH < 7) 25.0 45.2
Neutral (pH = 7) 25.0 19.8
Basic (pH > 7) 25.0 82.6

Effect of Temperature on Catalase Activity

Temperature (°C) Initial Temperature (°C) Reaction Time (seconds)
10 10.0 61.5
25 25.0 19.8
40 40.0 72.3

Effect of Substrate Concentration on Catalase Activity

Hydrogen Peroxide Concentration (%) Initial Temperature (°C) Reaction Time (seconds)
1 25.0 19.8
3 25.0 14.2
5 25.0 9.7


The experimental results clearly demonstrate the significant influence of pH, temperature, and substrate concentration on the activity of the enzyme catalase in the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. These factors play a crucial role in determining the rate of the enzymatic reaction.

Effect of pH: The experiment revealed that catalase exhibits optimal activity at a neutral pH (pH 7), with the fastest reaction rate observed under these conditions. In both acidic and basic environments, the reaction rate decreased significantly. This behavior can be attributed to the denaturation of catalase at extreme pH levels, causing a change in its active site's shape and reducing its catalytic efficiency.

Effect of Temperature: Catalase showed an optimal temperature range for activity, with the fastest reaction rate at 25°C. At lower temperatures, the reaction rate was slower, while at higher temperatures, the enzyme denatured, resulting in a decreased reaction rate. This observation highlights the importance of maintaining the appropriate temperature conditions for enzymatic reactions to occur efficiently.

Effect of Substrate Concentration: The experiment demonstrated that as the concentration of hydrogen peroxide increased, the reaction rate also increased. This finding aligns with the law of mass action, which states that the direction of a reaction depends on the concentration of reactants. Higher substrate concentrations provided more opportunities for enzyme-substrate interactions, leading to faster reactions.

The results support the notion that enzymes are highly specific and sensitive to their environmental conditions. Any deviation from the optimal pH or temperature range can lead to denaturation and reduced enzyme activity. Additionally, substrate concentration directly affects the reaction rate, with higher concentrations yielding faster reactions due to increased collision frequency between enzymes and substrates.


The experiments conducted in this lab confirm that catalase is a potent enzyme that significantly accelerates the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. The rate of this reaction is influenced by various factors, including pH, temperature, and substrate concentration. Optimal conditions for catalase activity include a neutral pH and a moderate temperature range around 25°C. Additionally, increasing the substrate concentration leads to a faster reaction rate, following the law of mass action.


Continued research on enzyme catalysis is essential for a deeper understanding of the biochemical processes involved. Further investigations can explore the kinetics of enzyme-catalyzed reactions, including the determination of kinetic constants such as the Michaelis-Menten constant (Km) and the maximum reaction rate (Vmax). Additionally, studying the effects of different inhibitors and activators on catalase activity can provide valuable insights into enzyme regulation.

Updated: Dec 29, 2023
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Laboratory Report: Enzyme Catalysis. (2016, Apr 02). Retrieved from

Laboratory Report: Enzyme Catalysis essay
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