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Electrolysis

What is Electrolysis?

Electrolysis is a process where chemical changes occur at the electrodes (cathode or anode) due to the passage of electricity passes through the electrolytic solution. In chemistry, the process of electrolysis is carried out by oxidation reduction or redox reaction by which the substance loses or gains electrons.

Electrolysis is a process where chemical changes occur at the electrodes due to the passage of electricity passes through the electrolytic solution

Electrolysis technology is a commercially important process for the extraction or purification of metals (copper, nickel, silver, gold) from their naturally occurring ores or minerals by using electrolytic cell reactions.

Electrolysis of hydrochloric acid

The process of electrolysis and the mechanism of electric conductance of hydrochloric acid solution define that there is a surplus of electrons at the cathode and a deficit of electrons at the anode.

  • The hydrogen ion (H+) in solution moves toward the cathode by Coulombic force of attraction and receives one electron to form the hydrogen atom.
  • Similarly, chlorine ion from the solution moves towards the anode and departs one electron to form a neutral chlorine atom.

One electron transfers from the cathode to the anode with the help of hydrochloric acid solutions or medium, and due to the conductance of electric current or electrolysis, the ions are decomposed at the electrode.

Two hydrogen atoms form hydrogen gas and two chlorine atoms form chlorine molecules, escape from the electrolytic solution.

Faraday’s law of electrolysis formula

Faraday’s first law of electrolysis

According to Faraday’s first law of electrolysis, the amount of decomposition at the electrode (w) is directly proportional to the quantity of electric current or electricity (Q) passed.

The mathematical formula of the first law,

w = ZQ

Where w = electrochemical equivalence of decomposing substances.

Again, w = ZIt

Where I = current strength or amount of electricity passing in unit time
t = time of flow of electricity
Z = electrochemical equivalent

Faraday’s second law of electrolysis

Faraday’s second law of electrolysis states that the weight of different substances decomposed at the different electrodes by given electricity is proportional to their equivalent weight.

The mathematical formula of the second law of electrolysis,

w1/w2 = E1/E2

Where w1 and w2 = weight of a decomposed substance
E1 and E2 = equivalent weights

What is one faraday of electricity?

One Faraday defines the amount of electricity required to decompose one gram equivalent electrolytic substance in chemistry or chemical science.

The numerical value of 1F = 96496 coulombs
≈ 96500 coulombs.

What is Electrolysis and electrolysis of silver nitrate AgNO3 solutions

The electrochemical equivalent of silver (atomic mass = 108),

ZAg = 108/96500
= 0.001118 gm/coulomb

This law was used to construct the instrument Coulometer to determine the amount of electricity passing through the circuit by determining the quantity of a substance that decomposes at an electrode in an electrolysis solution.

Avogadro number calculation

In learning chemistry, Faraday’s second law helps to determine the Avogadro number (N0). For the decomposition of a 1-mole substance at the electrode, ZF electricity is required. Similarly, for 1-mole substance ZeN0 amount of charge.

ZeN0 = ZF
or N0 = F/e

The numerical value of Avogadro number

N0 = 96500/1.6 × 10−19
= 6.022 × 1023

Application of electrolysis

  • The electrolysis process has many important industrial applications, for extraction (electrowinning) or purification (electrorefining) of metals and non-metals (aluminum, lithium, sodium, magnesium, copper, silver, gold, fluorine, chlorine) from ores or compounds.
  • It is used for coating or electroplating metals.
  • The molten sodium chloride produced metallic sodium and chlorine molecules. However, the electrolysis of the aqueous solution of sodium chloride produced sodium hydroxide and chlorine gas. The process is used for the production of hydrogen and oxygen from water solutions.
  • The electrolysis formula uses fuel cells, which work by producing chemical energy by combustion of fuels like hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane, propane, and methyl alcohol. It is directly converted into electrical energy used for a pollution-free continuous source of energy in spacecraft and nuclear submarines.