D and F Block Catalyst

Dhristi JEE 2022-24

D and F Block Elements

The d and f Block elements belong to groups of 3 to 11. They are also called Transition elements and inner transition elements. Based on the 4f and 5f orbitals, the f-block elements are differentiated in lanthanides and actinides. The d block, on the other hand, is a transition element that has partially filled (n-1) d-orbitals. Transition metals found in the d and f blocks of the periodic table are used as catalysts. It contains elements like iron, cobalt, nickel, platinum, etc., and their compounds, which are now some of the most common catalysts used in industries. Refer to the official website of Vedantu or download the app for an elaborate and easy explanation.



The substances that cause a decrease in activation energy and increase the rate of a chemical reaction are called a catalyst. These substances alter the rate of a chemical reaction without themselves getting changed. However, compared to reactants, the amount of catalyst used in a chemical reaction is comparatively low. There are two types of catalysts, namely the positive catalyst and the negative catalyst. The reaction rate of the reaction can be increased using a positive catalyst whereas the rate of reaction can be decreased using a negative catalyst.


Transition Elements: What are They?

Before jumping directly into the applications and properties of Transition metals, let's first understand what transition metals are.


Transition elements, often known as transition metals, contain partly filled d-orbitals. D-block elements are another name for transition elements. Except for lanthanides and actinides, transition elements range from 21Sc to 112Cn. Inner transition elements include lanthanide and actinides. The name transition elements come from the fact that they indicate the transition from metals to nonmetals in the periodic table. Transition elements are defined as those elements in the contemporary periodic table that fall between the s-block and the p-block.


Transition Elements Characteristics D and F Block Elements

The following points can be used to define the attributes of transition elements:

  • Transition elements have a wide range of oxidation values as well as a wide range of valence states. Ti, for example, has +3 and +4 valances, whereas Cr has +2, +3, +4, +6 valencies.

  • These elements combine to generate coordination compounds or complexes.

  • Coloured compounds are formed by these metals.

  • The melting and boiling temperatures of these metals are quite high.

  • The concentrations of these elements are quite high.

  • The elements in this group have catalytic characteristics.

  • In general, these components form stable complexes.

  • The charge-to-radius ratio of certain elements is quite high.


Group D and F Block Catalyst

The metals found in f-block and d-block are all transition metals. They form unstable intermediates with their reactants. Since they tend to exhibit variable valency, hence it results in the formation of complexes. The unstable intermediate, however, results in the production of lower activation energy for the reaction. Due to the lowering of activation energy, the rate of reaction is increased. The unstable intermediates are then decomposed to get the final product, with the catalyst being regenerated at the end of the reaction.  


Catalysts provide a greater surface area for the reaction to occur; hence, it provides free valencies using which the reactant molecules are absorbed on the surface. 


Explanation of Catalytic Behaviour

Transition metals exhibit catalytic behaviour for a variety of reasons:

  • The existence of d orbitals that are empty.

  • They have the ability to display a wide range of valencies.

  • They have a proclivity for forming complicated chemicals.


Because transition metals have a tendency to display fluctuating valency and form complexes, they produce unstable intermediates with their reactants. The reaction might take a different path with lower activation energy because of the unstable intermediate generated during the reaction. The rate of the reaction rises when the activation energy is reduced. Later in the process, these unstable intermediates break down to create the final product, and the catalyst is regenerated. Finely split catalysts are frequently utilised because they give a larger surface area for the reaction to take place. The reactant molecules are absorbed on the surface because of the huge surface area, which gives free valencies.


Applications of Group D And F Block Catalyst

Catalysts are used in almost all chemical reactions. And almost all the industries have found a way to commercialise the transition metals in their industrial productions. For hydrogenation reactions to occur, a catalyst named nickel can be used. It is also mainly used in hydrogenating oil to manufacture vegetable ghee—finely divided iron acts as a catalyst for the synthesis of ammonia using Haber’s process. Also, V2O5 acts as a catalyst in the production of H2SO4 using the contact process. In the manufacturing of high-density polythene, TiCl4 is used to act as a catalyst.


Properties of F-Block Elements

These are soft metals that have a silvery-white colour. However, when exposed to air, their colour changes and brightness also decreases. The melting points of the elements are 1000K to 1200K and most of them are good conductors of heat and electricity. Unlike lanthanides, actinides are pure silvery in colour. Lanthanides are non-radioactive, whereas actinides are highly radioactive elements. 


Due to their radioactive nature, actinides have high reactivity, and it only increases when they are finely divided to act as a catalyst. They act as catalysts in most chemical reactions and are used only in moderations due to their high reactivity.


Properties of D-Block Elements

The elements of d-blocks are called transitional elements and have primary usage as a catalyst for various chemical reactions. As they are present in d-blocks, their valence electrons fall under the d-orbital. They are often referred to as transitional metals, and they have electrons added to d-sub orbitals between (n+1) p and (n+1) s sub orbitals.


The elements have metallic qualities such as malleability and ductility. They even display high levels of electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity along with good tensile strength. The elements have four series that fill up the 3d, 4d, 5d, or 6d orbitals.


Electronic Configuration of D- Block Elements

The last differentiating electron is accommodated on final d-orbitals in the transition element, i.e., d-orbitals are gradually filled. The electronic configuration of transition components, in general, is as follows: (n-1)1-10 ns0,1 or 2


Each of the four complete rows (called series) of 10 elements corresponds to the filling of 3d, 4d, 5d, and 6d-orbitals. Each series begins with a member of Group III B and concludes with a member of Group 12. (II B).


Electronic Configuration of F-Block Elements

(n – 2)f0, 2 to 14 (n – 1)d0 to 2 ns2 is the basic valence shell electronic configuration of f block elements (lanthanum and actinium series). The electrical configuration of the valence shell of the 4f block element promethium (atomic number 61) is 4f5 5d0 6s2.


The d and f blocks of the periodic table are used as catalysts. There are two types of catalysts, namely the positive catalyst and the negative catalyst. Catalysts provide a greater surface area for the reaction to occur; hence, it provides free valencies using which the reactant molecules are absorbed.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why are transition metals called “Noble Metals”?

In the transition elements, the ionization energy of the metals tends to increase slowly across rows. The density, electronegativity, electrical and thermal conductivities increase from the left of 3D series to the right corner 5D transition elements. The enthalpies of hydration in the metal cations, however, decrease in magnitude. All this leads to the transition metals becoming y less reactive and more “noble” in character. Hence they are referred to as noble metals. 

Their high ionization energies and increasing electronegativity, and the decreasing enthalpies of hydration make the d block elements highly unreactive. They are thus justifying the term Noble metals. Check out Vedantu’s website or download the app for a detailed and comprehensive explanation.

2. What is the difference between lanthanoids and actinoids?

The difference between lanthanoids and actinoids are:

  • Lanthanoids: They are involved in the filling of 4f- orbitals. The binding energy of 4f electrons is less than the 5f-electrons, which makes the lanthanoids less reactive. It is easy to achieve and describe the paramagnetic properties of lanthanoids. All lanthanoids are non-radioactive except promethium. They do not tend to form oxo-cations.

  • Actinoids: They are involved in the filling of 5f-orbitals. The binding energy of 5f-electrons is higher, but the shielding effect is less effective than the 4f-electrons. All actinide elements are highly radioactive. Actinide forms oxo-cations, and their compounds are highly basic.

3. Why are transition metals used as catalysts?

Transition metals, as well as their derivatives, are often used as catalysts. A few of the more apparent instances are included here, although catalysis is covered in greater depth elsewhere on the site. Transition metals and their compounds work as catalysts due to their capacity to alter oxidation state or, in the case of the metals, their ability to adsorb and activate other substances on their surface. The major catalysis part delves into all of this.

4. What is Aufbau’s Principle?

The Aufbau principle governs how electrons are filled in an atom's atomic orbitals while it is in its ground state. According to this theory, electrons are filled into atomic orbitals in a sequence of increasing orbital energy levels. According to the Aufbau principle, the lowest energy atomic orbitals are occupied first, followed by the higher energy levels.

The word 'Aufbau' has German roots and essentially translates to 'build up' or 'construct.'

5. What distinguishes f-block components from other types of elements?

The following are the properties of f-block elements:

  • The inner transition elements' third final shell is filled with electrons.

  • Colourful ions are created by these elements.

  • The elements of the actinide series are radioactive.

  • The inner transition components display variable valencies.

  • Beyond atomic number 92, elements are both synthetic and radioactive in nature.