Natural Sciences


Hydrolysis is the decomposition of complex organic and inorganic substances through the breakdown of H2O molecules, with which simpler substances are formed. With hydrolysis, molecules or ions can be removed, replaced or fragmented.

It is a simple chemical reaction that consists of the decomposition of water, that is, in separating its hydrogen and oxygen molecules . The role of water in this process is the breaking of bonds in molecules or ions (organic or inorganic) to achieve a certain objective, such as the formation of other substances or the obtaining of some chemical element.

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What does it consist of?

In hydrolysis, not only does water break its bond , but also other substances involved in the process. Contrary to condensation, in this reaction the molecules separate rather than join.

Generally speaking, what happens during hydrolysis is that an organic molecule and water react by breaking a covalent bond to create two organic molecules with groups that span the atoms of the water molecule.

Types of hydrolysis

  • Acid hydrolysis. In acid-base hydrolysis, the breakdown of water forms the hydronium ion (H3O +), which results from the hydration of one of the ions obtained, H +. Hydroxyl OH- is the other resulting ion. It is in pure water where this reaction occurs easily and spontaneously, in addition, a balance called autoprotolysis is generated, since the concentration of oxidanium (hydronium) and hydroxyl ions is the same: each water molecule that is divided generates a hydronium and a hydroxyl.
  • Hydrolysis of amides and esters. It occurs when water (or hydroxide ion) attacks the carbon in the carbonyl group of the ester or amide.
  • Hydrolysis of polysaccharides . It is when sugars break down or dissolve in water. An example of this is the disaccharide or polysaccharide , which can be dissolved in H2O. This is how sugar is simplified, and allows complex molecules to be joined with other similar, but simpler ones.

Examples of hydrolysis

Next, we will mention some substances or compounds that can be hydrolyzed.

  • Sugars
  • ATP
  • Protein
  • Amides and esters
  • Sodium Chloride NaCl in aqueous solution hydrolyzes to form Sodium (Na +) and Chloride (Cl-) ions
  • Sodium Hydroxide NaOH in aqueous solution is hydrolyzed to form Sodium (Na +) and Hydroxide (OH-) ions
  • Sodium Sulfate Na2SO4 in aqueous solution hydrolyzes to form Sodium (Na +) and Sulfate (SO4-2) ions
  • Calcium Chloride CaCl2 in aqueous solution hydrolyzes to form Calcium (Ca + 2) and Chloride (Cl-) ions
  • Calcium Sulfate CaSO4 in aqueous solution forms Calcium (Ca + 2) and Sulfate (SO4-2) ions
  • Hydrogen Chloride HCl in aqueous solution forms Hydrogen (H +) and Chloride (Cl-) ions
  • Sulfuric Acid H2SO4 in aqueous solution forms Hydrogen (H +) and Sulfate (SO4-2) ions
  • Phosphoric Acid H3PO4 in aqueous solution forms Hydrogen (H +) and Phosphate (PO4-3) ions
  • Calcium Hydroxide Ca (OH) 2 in aqueous solution forms Calcium (Ca + 2) and Hydroxide (OH-) ions
  • Ammonium Chloride NH4Cl in aqueous solution forms Ammonium (NH4 +) and Chloride (Cl-) ions

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