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Absorption is the process in which a fluid is dissolved by a liquid or a solid. Adsorption is the process in which atoms, ions or molecules from a substance (gas, liquid or dissolved solid) adhere to a surface of the adsorbent. Adsorption can be used to separate out unwanted substances.
The reason Dr. Lavelle mentioned adsorption is because adsorption is the way that solid heterogeneous catalysts work. He said adsorption is sort of like a bunch of covalent bonds between the reactants and the solid catalyst on the surface of the solid (not literally covalent bonds, but similar concept for the purpose of this class)
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