This image taken from Raw to Ready: Mack Truck demonstrates how platinum acts as a catalyst. A catalyst is something that speeds up the chemical reaction between other molecules and the process of accelerating chemical reactions is called catalysis. On a molecular level, methane and oxygen gas are attracted to the surface of the platinum catalyst, breaking apart as they interact with the metal. Then, as they release, the individual atoms spontaneously react to form new molecules: carbon dioxide and water. The reaction releases heat energy that turns the platinum wire in Humphry Davy’s experiment white hot.