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Electroplating The problem was to discover which electrolyte is the best. An electrolyte is a liquid you electroplate in. Water, vinegar, and vinegar with salt stirred in it were the three electrolytes used. Which is the best electrolyte for copperplating a nickel? Is there a difference between these electrolytes or are they all the same? Electroplating is the process of coating with metal by means of electric current. When electroplating is really used it is more complicated than the process used in this experiment. In a real plating tank the cathode, or metal to be plated, is negatively charged. The anode, or plating metal, is charged positively. Then some of the atoms on the anode come off with the electric current and on to the cathode. The cathode’s old atoms are taken off with the electric current, leaving room for the anode’s atoms (Ammen 38-39). Electroplating is used to keep an old metal looking new. It can also be used to make one metal look like another. Electroplating is used in a lot of cases. A very well known use is on cars. This keeps a car looking shiny and attractive. Copperplating is most commonly used to prevent metal from hardening. Silverplating is mainly used on tableware and electric contacts. Goldplating may be found on jewelry and watchcases. Zinc is often used to prevent corrosion of steel objects. A nickel or chromium plating may be found on cars or household appliances (“Electroplating”). Some coating procedures may have begun in early times. Modern electroplating did not start until the early 1800’s. After the invention of the battery at this time period, large amounts of current electricity became available. It also could deposit lead, copper, and silver. With the discovery of cyanide solution, deposits of gold, silver, copper and brass could be directly deposited on steel or iron. This increased the commercial use of electroplating. The electroplating industry has grown and has developed many requirements in the electroplating process. Some commonly used metals today are iron, brass, silver, copper, cobalt, zinc, gold, lead, and chromium. Chromium is a very useful metal in this industry. Chromium is very bright and stays this way for a very long time. Automobiles are the main items electroplated with this metal. That is what keeps a car bright.
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