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Unit 1: Electrochemistry

  • Page ID
    48477
  • Electrochemistry is the study of chemical processes that cause electrons to move. This movement of electrons is called electricity, which can be generated by movements of electrons from one element to another in a reaction known as an oxidation-reduction ("redox") reaction.

    • 1.1: Galvanic Cells
      A galvanic (voltaic) cell uses the energy released during a spontaneous redox reaction to generate electricity, whereas an electrolytic cell consumes electrical energy from an external source to force a reaction to occur. Electrochemistry is the study of the relationship between electricity and chemical reactions. The oxidation–reduction reaction that occurs during an electrochemical process consists of two half-reactions, one representing the oxidation process and one the reduction process.
    • 1.2: Standard Electrode Potentials
      Redox reactions can be balanced using the half-reaction method. The standard cell potential is a measure of the driving force for the reaction. \(E°_{cell} = E°_{cathode} − E°_{anode} \] The flow of electrons in an electrochemical cell depends on the identity of the reacting substances, the difference in the potential energy of their valence electrons, and their concentrations. The potential of the cell under standard conditions is called the standard cell potential (E°cell).
    • 1.3: Strengths of Oxidants and Reductants
      The relative strengths of various oxidants and reductants can be predicted using E° values. The oxidative and reductive strengths of a variety of substances can be compared using standard electrode potentials. Apparent anomalies can be explained by the fact that electrode potentials are measured in aqueous solution, which allows for strong intermolecular electrostatic interactions, and not in the gas phase.
    • 1.4: E, ΔG, and K (The Big Triangle of Chemistry)
      A coulomb (C) relates electrical potential, expressed in volts, and energy, expressed in joules. The faraday (F) is Avogadro’s number multiplied by the charge on an electron and corresponds to the charge on 1 mol of electrons. Spontaneous redox reactions have a negative ΔG and therefore a positive Ecell. Because the equilibrium constant K is related to ΔG, E°cell and K are also related. Large equilibrium constants correspond to large positive values of E°.
    • 1.5: Cell Potential as a Function of Concentrations
      Redox reactions can be balanced using the half-reaction method. The standard cell potential is a measure of the driving force for the reaction. \(E°_{cell} = E°_{cathode} − E°_{anode} \] The flow of electrons in an electrochemical cell depends on the identity of the reacting substances, the difference in the potential energy of their valence electrons, and their concentrations. The potential of the cell under standard conditions is called the standard cell potential (E°cell).
    • 1.6: Batteries: Producing Electricity Through Chemical Reactions
      Commercial batteries are galvanic cells that use solids or pastes as reactants to maximize the electrical output per unit mass. A battery is a contained unit that produces electricity, whereas a fuel cell is a galvanic cell that requires a constant external supply of one or more reactants to generate electricity. One type of battery is the Leclanché dry cell, which contains an electrolyte in an acidic water-based paste.
    • 1.7: Corrosion: Unwanted Voltaic Cells
      Corrosion is a galvanic process that can be prevented using cathodic protection. The deterioration of metals through oxidation is a galvanic process called corrosion. Protective coatings consist of a second metal that is more difficult to oxidize than the metal being protected. Alternatively, a more easily oxidized metal can be applied to a metal surface, thus providing cathodic protection of the surface. A thin layer of zinc protects galvanized steel. Sacrificial electrodes can also be attached
    • 1.8: Electrolysis: Causing Nonspontaneous Reactions to Occur
      In electrolysis, an external voltage is applied to drive a nonspontaneous reaction. Electrolysis can also be used to produce hydrogen and oxygen gas from water. Electroplating is the process by which a second metal is deposited on a metal surface. The amount of material consumed or produced in a reaction can be calculated from the stoichiometry of an electrolysis reaction, the amount of current passed, and the duration of the electrolytic reaction.