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Battery to replace chemical electron donor

  1. Aug 1, 2013 #1
    In reactions that reduce organic compounds through donation of electrons, can a battery substitute as an electron donor?

    In a typical mercury/aluminum amalgam reaction, aluminum donates the electron to the compound that is going to be reduced. The mercury serves as a mediator for the reaction.

    I don't understand what mediation is needed and/or how it mediates said reaction.

    I have read that the reaction essentially creates a battery. https://www.google.com/search?q=amalgum+battery

    I have heard of other reduction reactions that substitute batteries in place of chemical electron donors.

    There is a lot of potential here to reduce the environmental impact considering how nasty mercury is.

    I've done beginner electrochemistry in my day, but it involved standard metal plating. I'd like to come up with a simple experiment that involves organic compounds.

    Any thoughts?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2013 #2


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    Short answer... Yes.

    Aluminum forms a nonconductive crust when it is oxidizes. Mercury breaks it down and continually presents a pristine, electrically-conductive surface to the reagents while maintaining an intimate electrical contact with the aluminum.

    Here are a few...
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