Hydrolysis is common form of a chemical reaction where water is mostly used to break down the chemical bonds that exists between a particular substance. Hydrolysis is derived from a Greek word hydro meaning water and lysis which translates to the word break or to unbind. Usually in hydrolysis the water molecules get attached to two parts of a molecule. One molecule of a substance will get H+ ion and the other molecule receives the OH- group. Hydrolysis reaction is mainly used to break down polymers into monomers.

So while studying chemistry, hydrolysis basically means the act of setting apart chemicals by adding water. The reaction of water with another chemical compound results in the formation of two or more products. Some examples of hydrolysis include dissolving a salt of a weak acid or base in water or dissolving sulphuric acid in water where hydronium and bisulfate compounds are formed. Hydrolysis also helps in breaking down proteins, fats, and complex carbohydrates in food.

The general formula of a hydrolysis reaction is:

\(AB + H_{2}O \rightarrow AH + BOH\)

Types of Hydrolysis

There are several types of hydrolysis, and we will look at them in brief below.

  • Salts: This is the most common type of hydrolysis. Hydrolysis of salts generally refers to the reaction of salt with water where it involves the interaction between cations or anions of salts and water. During hydrolysis, a salt breaks down to form ions, completely or partially depending upon the solubility factor.
  • Acid and Base: Acid–base-catalysed hydrolysis can be found during the hydrolysis of esters or amides. Here, the process of hydrolysis occurs when water or hydroxyl ion reacts with the carbon of the carbonyl group of the ester or amide where new compounds are formed. The products for both hydrolysis are compounds with carboxylic acid groups.
  • ATP: Most biochemical reactions that occur in living organisms are in the form of ATP hydrolysis which takes place with the help of enzymes acting as catalysts. The catalytic action of enzymes allows the hydrolysis or breaking down of proteins, lipids, oils, fats and carbohydrates.

For a detailed discussion on acids, bases and salts and the reactions keep visiting BYJU’S or download our app to experience a fun learning experience.

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