Electrolysis is the decomposition of a molten or aqueous compound by
electricity. Electrolysis occurs only in liquids called electrolytes.
Electrolytes are compounds, which conduct electricity when molten or
dissolved in water, but not when they are in a solid state as the
oppositely charged ions are held together by strong ionic bonds in a
giant lattice and this means electricity cannot pass through it and
the ions are unable to move.
If electrolytes are molten or dissolved in water their ions are free
to move, and the movement of ions in liquids is key in electrolysis.
Electrolysis takes place in an electrolyte cell.
The diagram below shows the apparatus used in the electrolysis of
molten or aqueous ionic compounds.
The electrodes (anode and cathode) are known as conducting rods.
Normally they are made out of platinum or graphite as these substances
are chemically unreactive and will not interfere with the experiment.
They are inert electrodes. However in this experiment we are using
copper electrodes. Copper electrodes are active electrodes and these
metal electrodes take part in electrolysis. Copper electrodes are used
in industry to obtain pure copper.
The anode is the positive electrode, electrons flow from the anode to
the battery. The anions, which are negatively charged non-metal ions
(except for some complex transition metal ions) are attracted to the
The cathode is the negative electrode. Electrons flow into the cathode
from the battery. The cations, which are positively charged metal ions
... middle of paper ...
...ted because the longer the time for the
current to pass around the circuit, the greater the amount of time for
the atoms to lose electrons (oxidation) become ions at the anode, and
the greater the amount of time for the ions to gain electrons
(reduction) and form atoms at the cathode. As we know from
investigating current the mass of copper lost at the anode equals that
gained at the cathode, so it can be said if you double the time you
double the amount of copper deposited. Also I predict that the amount
of copper deposited will be directly proportional to the time. It can
be seem from this that I expect the greatest amount of copper
deposited on the cathode to occur when using a time period of 50
minutes, and I expect the least amount of copper deposited on the
cathode to occur when using a time period of 10 minutes.
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