Platinum catalysis

Platinum is glowing in methanol vapour

Scientific name: Methanol and oxygen react on the surface of highly porous platinum


Catalytic decomposition of methanol

Fire and Flame 32 - Platinum with Methanol

Briquet methanol platine

by Martin Goblet


by sylviana meneghello Meneghello

Platin over methanol.wmv

by KemishowAalborg

Oscillating Platinum Wire

by HerrPingui


Wear eye protection goggles.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

2 CH3OH + 3 O2 → 2 CO2 + 4 H2O

Step-by-step instruction

WARNING! This experiment is dangerous! You should NOT perform this at home. ONLY carry out this experiment, if you are a trained chemist, and you understand local safety and legal requirements, which are required to perform such experiments

  1. Pour a few milliliters of methanol into a large round-bottom flask.
  2. Heat a piece of platinum using a gas burner.
  3. Insert the heated piece of platinum into the flask.
  4. Observe the glowing of platinum pieces.
  5. If methanol vapor ignites, you need to blow out the flame. Observe the glowing of platinum again.

Scientific background

This experiment is typical example of heterogeneous catalysis.

The reaction between methanol and oxygen does not proceed under normal conditions due to the high energy of activation. To overcome it, you can to file a spark, for example.

In this case, the adsorption of reactants occurs on the large surface area of the platinum catalyst. The reaction mechanism changes and the activation barrier becomes lower. Therefore, the reaction proceeds under normal conditions.


Published on 30 June 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst