Catalysis (//) is the process of increasing the rate of a chemical reaction by adding a substance known as a catalyst (//). Catalysts are not consumed in the reaction and remain unchanged after it. If the reaction is rapid and the catalyst recycles quickly, very small amounts of catalyst often suffice; mixing, surface area, and temperature are important factors in reaction rate. Catalysts generally react with one or more reactants to form intermediates that subsequently give the final reaction product, in the process of regenerating the catalyst.
Catalysis may be classified as either homogeneous, whose components are dispersed in the same phase (usually gaseous or liquid) as the reactant, or heterogeneous, whose components are not in the same phase. Enzymes and other biocatalysts are often considered as a third category.
Catalysis is ubiquitous in chemical industry of all kinds. Estimates are that 90% of all commercially produced chemical products involve catalysts at some stage in the process of their manufacture.
The term "catalyst" is derived from Greek καταλύειν, kataluein, meaning "loosen" or "untie". The concept of catalysis was invented by chemist Elizabeth Fulhame, based on her novel work in oxidation-reduction experiments.