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I was studying catalytic poisoning and read that in temporary poisoning, the poisoners are held at active centres by weak forces.

What is an 'active centre' in this context?

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    $\begingroup$ Same as "active sites" or where the catalyzed reaction takes place. $\endgroup$ – IT Tsoi Jul 8 '16 at 6:32
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The active centre is the site where the substrate binds to the catalyst in order for catalysis to take place. On a molecular level, most catalysts (or most substances really) are not just flat surfaces, they have complex three dimensional shapes. The substrate often has to bind to the catalyst in a very specific way in order for the catalysed reaction to take place - this is the active centre.

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The surface of catalyst is not smooth. It bears steps, cracks and corners. Hence the atoms on such locations of the surface are coordinately unsaturated. So, they have much residual force of attraction. Such sites are called active centers. So, the surface carriers high surface free energy.

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    $\begingroup$ The simplest catalyst is a proton. It has none of the features that you mention. $\endgroup$ – Zhe Oct 10 at 17:34

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