Hydrogenation is a process that occurs when hydrogen is added to an alkane or aromatic compound, usually with the help of a catalyst. This process is used in many industrial applications such as food processing, manufacturing of plastics, oil refining and pharmaceutical production, among others. In general, hydrogenation increases the stability, shelf life, and flexibility of materials by adding chemical bonds and converting unsaturated compounds into saturated ones.
The reaction can be divided into two types: catalytic and noncatalytic. In catalytic hydrogenation, a metal catalyst is used to increase the rate of hydrogenation. This type of reaction is typically used in the refining of petroleum products to produce gasoline, kerosene, and fuel oil. In noncatalytic hydrogenation, the reaction is slow and no metal catalyst is needed. An example of a noncatalytic reaction is the formation of margarine from vegetable oils.
Hydrogenation is also responsible for the conversion of some toxic compounds into less harmful substances. This process is especially important for the treatment of drinking water, where chlorine is converted into an easily biodegradable form. Hydrogenation is also used to treat industrial wastewater and landfill leachate to reduce the presence of hazardous compounds.
In conclusion, hydrogenation is an important and versatile process that is used in many industrial and environmental applications. It increases the stability, shelf life and flexibility of materials, as well as providing a safe way to treat and convert toxic compounds into less harmful substances.