What is hydrolysis?

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Hydrolysis refers to a chemical process wherein compounds react with water. The typical result of this chemical reaction is the breakdown of the molecules of the compound involved and that of water. For water that is composed of 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom, reaction with other compounds results to the splitting of these atoms into a positively charged H or hydrogen atom and a negatively-charge OH ion combination. The same process also breaks down the components of another compound which can be a salt, acid, or a base. With water present, these compounds are usually dissolved in water and combine with other free atoms to form other substances.

The process of hydrolysis is considered an important feature of various ions and compounds. Various industries are dependent on the process of hydrolysis in the manufacture of certain products. Hydrolysis for example is one part in the manufacture of soap. In this particular case, the fat content in soap needs to be hydrolyzed or mixed with water to come up with the finish product. There are also cases wherein hydrolysis is assisted by other processes in order to produce the chemical reaction of specific compounds with water. Introducing high temperature and pressure on certain materials for example may help speed up the hydrolysis of certain compounds.

For the human body, hydrolysis is an important process in the release of energy for various cellular processes. The breakdown of ATP or adenosine tri-phosphate for example is promoted by hydrolysis. ATP literally translates to energy and when the phosphate groups become separated through hydrolysis, more energy can be produced and becomes readily available for various cells that need it. This is also the same process that helps the breakdown of glucose from food. With the presence of water, the components of starch can then be absorbed for the body’s metabolic and/or nutritional needs.