AAT Bioquest

How do I speed up a reaction?

Posted February 3, 2023


You can use enzymes to speed up a reaction. Enzymes speed up a reaction by lowering the activation energy of the reaction. Activation energy is the energy required to initiate a chemical reaction between two or more reactants. Enzymes are biological catalysts that are capable of increasing the rates of both forward and backward reactions. However, the enzymes themselves do not take part in the reaction.

Some reactions require a great amount of activation energy, which makes it difficult for the reactants to come together and react. Enzym es increase the rate of the chemical reaction by lowering the activation energy, which is the energy needed for the reactants to come together. Enzymes may work in three different ways to speed up a reaction: 

  1. They may bring the reactants together making it easier for them to interact without having to expend energy moving about randomly until they collide with each other. 
  2. They may direct the reaction towards a different pathway that requires a lower activation energy. 
  3. They may bind reactants at the active site thereby positioning them correctly and allowing them to interact with less energy instead of having to overcome intermolecular forces that would otherwise push them apart. 

Temperature, ionic conditions, and pH may affect the rate at which an enzyme speeds up a chemical reaction. 

Additional resources

So do we understand how enzymes work?

Common Enzymes/Proteins and Their Inhibitors

Amplite® Universal Fluorimetric Kinase Assay Kit *Red Fluorescence*