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Catalysts are substances which lower the activation energy of a reaction and, therefore, increase the reaction rate (actually the rate at which an equilibrium is reached) without being consumed. Without a catalyst, the reaction rate can be so low as not to allow the reaction to proceed; the catalyst makes the reaction possible. However, the catalyst does not change the equilibrium of a reaction, i.e. a reaction which thermodynamically is not feasible will not proceed even with a catalyst. Catalysts in biological systems are called enzymes.
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