occurs when one of the products of a reaction acts as a catalyst
for that reaction to occur more rapidly (or at a lower energy if you like). This results in an "acceleration
" of the reaction.
An example of autocatalysis
is the reaction of permanganate ion
with oxalic acid
to form carbon dioxide
and manganous ion
. Once this reaction has occurred the manganous ion
acts as a catalyst to the original reaction. Such reactions are potentially dangerous
, since the reaction rate
may increase to the point of explosion.
The term autocatalysis
is sometimes used outside of the context of chemistry
to describe any effect
which has results that make the original effect
more likely to occur again.