The hatchet electrolysis was first popularized in the 19th century by Michael Faraday. It to be a procedure that aided in the examine of chemical reactions in obtaining pure elements. Today, electrolysis is commercially crucial as it is supplied widely in separating or obtaining pure facets from naturally arising sources such together ores.

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What is Electrolysis?

Electrolysis is defined as a procedure of decomposing ionic compounds into their aspects by passing a direct electric present through the compound in a liquid form. The cations are reduced at cathode and also anions space oxidized at the anode. The main components that are required for conducting electrolysis space an electrolyte, electrodes, and also some form of exterior power source is also needed. Additionally, a partition such together an ion-exchange membrane or a salt bridge is also used yet this is optional. These space used greatly to store the assets from diffusing near the opposite electrode.

An acidified or salt-containing water deserve to be decomposed by happen electric current to their original aspects hydrogen and also oxygen. Molten salt chloride can be decomposed to sodium and chlorine atoms.


Electrolysis is generally done in a vessel named ‘electrolytic cell’ containing 2 electrodes (cathode and anode) associated to a straight current resource and one electrolyte i m sorry is one ionic compound undergoing decomposition, in either molten type or in a disappear state in a suitable solvent. Generally, electrodes that space made native metal, graphite and semiconductor materials are used. However, the an option of a an ideal electrode is done based upon chemical reactivity between the electrode and also electrolyte as well as the production cost.

Electrolytic Process

In the procedure of electrolysis, there is one interchange that ions and atoms because of the enhancement or removed of electrons from the outside circuit. Basically, on happen current, cations move to the cathode, take electrons from the cathode (given by the it is provided source-battery), and is discharged into the neutral atom. The neutral atom, if solid, is deposit on the cathode and also if gas, relocate upwards. This is a reduction process and the cation is, diminished at the cathode.

Also Read: Water Electrolysis

At the exact same time anions, give up their extra electrons to the anode and is oxidized to neutral atom at the anode. Electrons released by the anions travel across the electrical circuit and also reach the cathode completing the circuit. Electrolysis requires a simultaneous oxidation reaction at anode and a reduction reaction at the cathode.

For example, when electric current, is, passed through molten salt chloride, the sodium ion is attractive by the cathode, indigenous which, that takes an electrode and also becomes a salt atom.

Chloride ion will the anode, provides its electron, and become chlorine atom to type chlorine molecule.

Na+(in electrolyte) + e–(from cathode) → Na …. In ~ Cathode

Cl–(from electrolyte) → e– + Cl → Cl2 …. At Anode

Electrolysis process, while advantageous to acquire elemental creates from compound directly, that can also be provided indirectly in the metallurgy of alkali and alkaline earth metals, purification the metals, deposition the metals, preparation of compounds etc.d

Cell Potential or Voltage

The minimum potential needed for the electrolysis process depends top top their capability of the individual ions to absorb or relax electrons. It is also sometimes defined as decomposition potential or decomposition voltage i m sorry is the minimum voltage (difference in electrode potential) between anode and cathode of an electrolytic cabinet that allows electrolysis to occur.

The voltage at which electrolysis is thermodynamically wanted is the distinction of the electrode potentials together calculated making use of the Nernst equation. Applying additional voltage, referred to as overpotential, have the right to increase the rate of reaction and also is often needed over the thermodynamic value. That is particularly necessary for electrolysis reactions including gases, such as oxygen, hydrogen or chlorine.

This capability is, measured as an electrode potential of the ions current in the electrolytic cell. The cell potential is the sum of the potential compelled for the reduction and oxidation reaction. The potential associated in miscellaneous redox reaction is accessible in literary works as typical reduction potential.

Reaction with positive redox cell potentials just will it is in feasible as per thermodynamic Gibbs cost-free energy (or conventional potential). Generally, the electrolysis is thermodynamically controlled.

In electrolysis, a potential equal to or slightly more than that, is, applied externally. The ions, which are stable and not reacting, space made to undergo reaction in the presence of externally applied potential. Exterior potential thus makes one unfavourable reaction to take place. In electrolysis, chemistry bonds connecting atoms space either do or broken and also so, electrolysis entails the conversion of electric energy into chemical energy.

Faraday’s legislation of Electrolysis

The lot of the redox reaction relies on the amount of electrical power flowing with the cell. Amount of reaction or the number of ions discharged is offered by Faraday’s regulation of electrolysis. There room two laws.

Faraday’s very first law deserve to be summary as;

m=EQ96485=EIt96485m=fracEQ96485=fracEIt96485m=96485EQ​=96485EIt​. Here, m is the fixed of the substance that has actually undergone change, E is the identical mass of the substance, ‘I’ is the current and ”t is the moment in seconds of the passing of current.

Faraday’s second law compares the massive of various substances experience a readjust for the same current.

According to this second law, M1M2=E1E2    or    M1M2=M1E2fracM_1M_2=fracE_1E_2,,, or,,,, fracM_1M_2=fracM_1E_2M2​M1​​=E2​E1​​ orM2​M1​​=E2​M1​​

Here, M and also E room the adjusted mass and also equivalent mass of the building materials respectively.

Product of Electrolysis

Electrolysis of only two ions (cation and anion) present in a single electrolyte is direct. Electrolysis will certainly produce commodities present in the compound. When much more than one cation and also anions are present, each ion will contend for reduction and also oxidations. Reaction with much more positive redox potentials will certainly be, diminished or oxidized, in preference, come others.

Also Read: Nernst Equation

So, despite multiple oxidation couples present, only one deserve to be diminished or oxidized. Periodically the ions that are lessened or oxidized might depend ~ above their relative amount. In other words, the oxidization reaction and also electrolysis may end up being kinetically controlled. In such cases, the product of evaluation may differ on the family member concentration that the assorted ions existing in the electrolyte.

For example, electrolysis of aqueous sodium chloride might give different products-

Hydrogen and also chlorine,Hydrogen and oxygen andHydrogen, oxygen and also chlorine.

Factors influence Electrolysis

The components that may impact the electrolysis are;

i) The nature of the electrode

ii) Nature and state the the electrolyte

iii) Nature and electrode potential that ions existing in the electrolyte and

iv) Overvoltage at the electrodes.

i) Nature and State that the Electrolyte

Electrolysis requires the motion of ions towards the oppositely fee electrodes. Naturally, the electrolyte should have actually mobile ions. In solids, ions room in certain positions and also cannot relocate at simple temperatures. Hence, solids space unsuitable for electrolysis.

For electrolysis, electrolyte have to be in the fluid form- molten or in systems with a an ideal polar solvent. Salt chloride will undergo electrolysis in the molten state or in aqueous solution.

ii) Nature and also Electrode Potential that Ions current in the Electrolyte

Electrolysis that electrolytes of two elemental ion is directly forward offering the two facets on electrolysis. Molten sodium chloride provides sodium atoms and chlorine molecule.Electrolysis the radical ion does not give the elemental atoms.Electrolytes containing an ext than one ionic compound counts on the family member redox potentials.Electrolysis that aqueous services of electrolytes. Water molecules also can experience redox reactions and will contend with redox reactions of the electrolyte ions.Electrolysis of molten salt chloride offers sodium and also chlorine. However electrolysis of aqueous salt chloride offers hydrogen and also chlorine and also not sodium.

Also Check ⇒ Electrolytes

iii) Nature of the Electrode

For the same electrolyte, the nature of the electrolyte might give different products. Once aqueous copper sulphate solution is, electrolyzed, the following redox reactions are possible.

At cathode: palliation at pH =7

Cu2+ (aq) + 2e →Cu (s) E° = 0.34V and 2H2O + 2e→H2 + 2OH E° = -1.02V

At anode: Oxidation in ~ pH = 7

Cu(s) →Cu2+ (aq) + 2e E° = – 0.34V and also 2H2O → O2(g) + 4H+ + 4e E° = +1.4 V

At the cathode, out of the two electrodes palliation potential that copper ions is more positive 보다 the palliation of water. So, regardless of whether of electrode, copper ion from the electrolyte will certainly be reduced and deposited ~ above the cathode, enhancing its mass. However the reaction in ~ anode depends on the electrode.

Also Read: Electrochemical Cells

Electrolysis v inert electrodes favor platinum, graphite, etc. Inert electrodes do not react v the electrolyte or the products and so does not undergo any changes. Because oxidation that water has an ext positive potential, oxygen will be progressed at the anode.

But, if the copper is provided as an anode, it will certainly react with the sulphate ion to maintain the electrolyte concentration. So, there will not be any gas evolution. Instead, the anode mass gradually decreases going into the solution.

iv) Overvoltage at the Electrodes.

The oxidation potential of electrolyte ion decides the electrolysis reactions and products. Sometimes, redox potentials of some half-reactions during the electrolysis is much more than the thermodynamic potentials. This overabundance voltage (over-voltage) that the half-reaction might make the reaction unfavourable and readjust the product of electrolysis.

In the hydrolysis that aqueous salt chloride, in ~ the anode, 2 oxidation reactions deserve to take place. The palliation potential the water and also chloride is +0.82V and also 0.1.36V respectively.

2H2O→O2(g) + 4H+ + 4e E° = -0.82 V

2Cl→ Cl2 + 2e E = – 1.36V

Oxidation of water being more positive is an ext feasible and also so, the evolution of oxygen gas should happen at the anode. But, the evolution of oxygen from water has an overvoltage of -0.6V making the voltage for the oxidation of water as -1.42V. Chloride oxidation is much more positive than the network voltage of water oxidation. Chloride is oxidized to chlorine in ~ the anode. Chlorine is liberated and also not oxygen since of overvoltage.

Electrolysis Applications

Electrolysis, as stated above, is a procedure of convert the ions of a compound in a fluid state into their decreased or oxidized state by passing an electric current through the compound. Thus, electrolysis finds many applications both in experimental and also industrial products. Few of the essential ones are:

1) decision of equivalent eight that substances.2) Metallurgy the alkali and alkaline planet metals.3) Purification that metals.4) produce of pure gases.5) manufacture of compounds like sodium hydroxide, salt carbonate, potassium chlorate etc.6) Electroplating for corrosion resistance, ornaments etc.

We shall comment on the various applications that electrolysis in detail below.

Determination of identical Eight of Substances

We understand Faraday’s 2nd Law states that the fixed of substances deposit is proportional come their tantamount weight. Massive of any deposited substance have the right to be, mathematically associated as;

M1E1=M2E2fracM_1E_1 = fracM_2E_2E1​M1​​=E2​M2​​

Equivalent massive of one unknown steel or substance deserve to be calculated by happen a known current through the solutions and determining the mass of building materials (M1 and also M2) deposited in their respective cells. If the equivalent of one problem is known, the equivalent mass that the unknown substance have the right to be calculated native the above equation.

Electrolysis of Molten Salts

Metallurgy of alkali and also alkaline earth and third group metals ores of metal are concentrated and converted largely to oxides. Oxides are decreased with reduce agents such together carbon, aluminium etc. Since, alkali and alkali earth metals have actually the biggest reduction potentials they cannot be, reduced by any type of other metals or their compounds.

The only way of isolation of alkali and alkali earth metals is to directly electrolyze your molten chlorides. Mix with various other halides choose calcium chlorides reduces the melting point of pure halides.

Electrorefining – Purification the Metals

Metals acquired after concentration and reduction of ores have a purity of around 90 -99%. One aqueous solution of the steel salt v the impure metal as anode and a pure metal as the cathode is electrolyzed. Pure metal, of much more than 99% purity, shop on the cathode and the impurities are accumulated at the bottom as mud. Copper and also nickel are some instances of the steel purified by electrorefining.


An object deserve to be, coated to the forced thickness with a pick metal by electrolysis. The object to be, coated is, made cathode. One aqueous systems of the metal salt to it is in coated is the electrolyte. The same steel or any type of inert metal deserve to be the anode. ~ above electrolysis, metal ion indigenous the electrolyte deposits on the object. The loss of steel ions in the systems will be, compensated if the same metal is make the anode.

The deposition have the right to be, supplied to safeguard the steel from corrosion are for making ornaments etc. Coating of stole with metals like zinc, lead, chromium, nickel enhances the corrosion resistance the iron. Gold and also silver coating ~ above cheaper metals is offered for make ornaments.

It is additionally used in electrochemical machining (ECM). Right here an electrolytic cathode is offered as a shaped device for removing product by anodic oxidation native a workpiece. ECM an approach is often used for deburring or for placing a permanent note or logo on metal surfaces prefer tools or knives.


Electroforming is a process of make a replica the objects making use of electrolysis. The object to be replicated is pressed in wax to make a mould. Graphite flour is, coated uniformly to do it conducting. This is, offered as a cathode and the salt the the metal to be deposited is taken as the electrolyte. After gaining the forced coating by electrolysis, wax and the graphite are, melted away.

Manufacture that Pure Gases

Aqueous salts on hydrolysis productivity different products depending top top the relative concentrations of salt and also water. Electrolysis of concentrated brine (sodium chloride) develops pure hydrogen and also chlorine gases. Pure chlorine gas is, gathered in the Chlor-alkali sectors by the electrolysis the brine aqueous solution.

Pure hydrogen and oxygen are, acquired by hydrolysis that water in the visibility of mountain or base or inert salt the alkali and alkaline planet metals. Percent of hydrogen because that commercial usage is produced by the electrolysis that water, worldwide.

Continuous electrolysis the water, removes all the typical hydrogen isotopes leaving the deuterium ions. The deuterium oxide leftover after ~ electrolysis of common water is ‘Heavy water’. Hefty water is supplied as a moderator in nuclear reactors producing electrical energy from nuclear reactions.

Manufacture the Compounds

Compounds like sodium hydroxide, sodium hydrosulphite, potassium permanganate, potassium chlorate, ammonium per-sulphate, heavy water etc. Are manufactured by electrolysis. Salt hydroxide is a next product in the chloralkali markets preparing chlorine gas by the electrolysis of brine.

Potassium permanganate is derived by the electrolysis the potassium manganite solution. Ammonium sulphate or ammonium bisulphate ~ above electrolysis creates ammonium persulphate.


This is a dedicated application the electrolysis. In this process, conductive crystals space grown on among the electrodes native oxidized or reduced varieties that are produced in situ. This method is popularly supplied to manufacture single crystals of low-dimensional electric conductors such as direct chain compounds or charge-transfer salts.

Electrolysis difficulties With Solutions

1. An stole pipe through 14cm diameter and length of 1 meter is to it is in galvanized to a thickness the 0.01cm utilizing zinc nitrate solution and a present of 25amp. What will be the lose of mass indigenous zinc anode and what will certainly be the time forced for the electrolysis? The thickness of zinc is 7.14g/cm3. The tantamount weight that zinc is 32.8

Volume of the zinc coating = 2πrxl × 0.01 cm3

Mass of the zinc to it is in coated= V × d

=2×227×142×1000×0.012 imesfrac227 imesfrac142 imes1000 imes0.012×722​×214​×1000×0.01 = 440g

Mass the the zinc lost from the anode = 440g.

By Faraday’s an initial Law that electrolysis,

m =EQ96485=EIt96485 or t=96485×mE×l=96485×44032.8×25=fracEQ96485=fracEIt96485,or,t= frac96485 imes mE imes l=frac 96485 imes 44032.8 imes 25=96485EQ​=96485EIt​ort=E×l96485×m​=32.8×2596485×440​ 51772sec = 14.4hrs

2. A existing of 3 amperes is, passed with neutral water comprise a tiny amount of salt Sulphate for one hour. Calculate the amount of hydrogen liberated in ~ one atmosphere.

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Number that coulombs happen = 3 × 60 × 60

Half reaction of the hydrolysis that water are-

At cathode: 2H2O + 2e– → H2(g) + 2OH–

At anode: 2H2O → O2(g) + 4H+ + 4e–

The net reaction the electrolysis that water is, 2H2O → 2H2(g) + O2(g)

Four faradays or 4 x 96485 coulomb the electric existing liberates 2 mole or 2× 22.4L the hydrogen gas.

10800 coulombs the electric current liberates Hydrogen =

2×22.4×108004×96485frac2 imes22.4 imes108004 imes964854×964852×22.4×10800​ = 1.25L

Total pressure over water = pressure of water vapour + press of hydrogen

The press of hydrogen = total pressure over water – pressure of water vapour

The push of hydrogen = 1atm – 0.0316atm =0.9684atm

So, volume of hydrogen liberated = 1.250.968frac1.250.9680.9681.25​ = 1.29L