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Ahmed JaffarElectrolysis and Electrochemical CellsElectrolysis is an electrochemical process in which a direct current (DC) passes through a liquid or solution containing ions and a chemical decomposition is produced. Electrolysis requires an electrolyte (an ionic liquid or gel), a DC (electric current flowing in one direction) and two electrodes (conductor that is used to make contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit) to occur. Put simply, the goal of electrolysis is to split up a chemical solution by using electricity.Electrolysis is essentially the interchange of ions and atoms by adding or removing electrons from the external circuit. The pair of electrodes must be immersed in an ionized solution, the electrolyte, and an electrical potential must be applied across them. The electrodes will attract opposite-charge ions so the cathode will attract cations and the anode will attract anions. Next, the electrons either get released or absorbed. Any neutral atoms will gain or lose electrons and turn into charged ions that pass into the electrolyte. The ions form uncharged atoms through discharging. Any positive metals will deposit in a layer onto the cathode, a term for this process is ‘electroplating’. Often the physical state of the products of electrolysis are different from that of the electrolyte. For instance, in the electrolysis of brine, the products, hydrogen and chlorine, are gaseous. Electrolysis is used in industry for refining metals, producing chemicals, electroplating, extracting and purifying metals. Electroplating is used to coat metal objects with another metal to make them look nicer or more resistant to corrosion. Often, chromium is used to plate car parts so that they are resistant to corrosion. An example of the refinement of metal is the electrolysis of aluminum ore, bauxite, which produces aluminum. Aluminum is used in aluminum foil, cans, kitchen utensils, window frames and all kinds of products. Electroplating is simply the use of electricity to coat a metal with another metal. Coating mundane metals like copper with metals like gold or silver can make a product look more expensive. The metal atoms that plate an object in electroplating come from the electrolyte. Any electrodes must be completely clean or else they will form a weak bond with the electrolyte. Commonly, an electrode is cleaned by being placed in an alkaline solution or a very strong acid. A clean electrode can get the atoms from the plating metal to bond to it strongly. The two electrodes must be from different conducting materials, an electricity supply and an electrolyte. Usually, a solution of the metal that is being plated is the electrolyte and one of the electrodes is made from the same metal. The electrodes must be connected through a circuit and placed inside the electrolyte solution so that the coating metal becomes the anode and the soon to be coated material becomes the cathode. When the power is turned on the solution will split into ions. The ions of the plating metal will attract to the cathode and the anions will attract to the anode and release electrons that travel towards the cathode through the battery. After a while the cathode will be plated.It is possible to electroplate organic materials like plastic. Metal can coat plastics such as polycarbonate and nylon. Electroplated plastic is used in plumbing fixtures, shoes and cell phones. Plastics cannot conduct electricity, so to electroplate a plastic it must be cleaned, etched with acid and cleaned with a catalyst so a coating can stick to the plastic. The plastic can now become electrically conductible after being immersed in a substance like nickel to gain a coat of the metal. After this process, the plastic can now be electroplated like a metal. Electrochemical cells are used to power appliances in our everyday lives. Electrochemical can either use chemicals reactions to generate electricity or use electricity to provide energy for chemical reactions.There are two types of electrochemical cells; electrolytic cells and galvanic cells. Electrolytic cells are often aqueous solution or a molten salt, that are two electrodes that are immersed in a conducting liquid. Galvanic cells are the opposite of electrolytic cells. Electrical energy is created through a chemical redox reaction in galvanic cells. In everyday life, electrolytic cells are used to purify and disinfect water. This is done with sodium hydroxide, chlorine gas and hydrogen gas. This is important because humans must drink clean water to survive and stay healthy. Galvanic cells are used in everyday life inside lead stored batteries to power different devices. The lead storage battery allows devices to be portable.Direct current batteries convert stored chemicals into electrical energy. A battery is made up of three different components: an electrolyte, an anode and a cathode. Normally in a dry cell battery the anode will be made of zinc, the cathode will be graphite and the electrolyte will be made of ammonium chloride. There will be a build of electrons in the anode causing an increase in potential electrical energy because of the chemical reactions inside the battery. The electrons in the anode will attempt to travel to the cathode due to attraction, but will not be able to due to the electrolyte separating the cathode and anode. When placed in a circuit, the electrons in the current will be able to travel to the cathode and will power appliances on the journey. Batteries expire over time once all of the chemical reactions inside have been used up, after expiration no electrical energy can be produced.

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