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Chemical Reaction of Baking Soda during electrolysis

  1. Jan 12, 2007 #1
    I was wondering if someone could tell me the chemical reaction of Baking Soda during electrolysis. According to wikapedia baking soda is sodium bicarbonate witht he formula NaHCO3. And/or could someone explain how i could figure out te chemical reaction of different items during electrolysis. Thank you all for your help.

    Ben Hall
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2007 #2


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    We cannot answer homework questions without you first showing some work (PF rules!) So, do you have any thoughts on the question?
  4. Jan 12, 2007 #3
    basically you have Na+ and HCO3-
    what does HCO3- dissociate into in water?

    and what generally happens when you have H2CO3 as a product?
  5. Jan 12, 2007 #4


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    This is an incomplete description of the electrolytic cell. Please post the original question EXACTLY as it was given to you, and show us what you think.
  6. Jan 15, 2007 #5
    This is not homework!

    This isn't homework. I am a senior in college and am studying computer science. I am not taking a chemistry class. I am learning about electrolysis on my own. If you would not like to give me the answer please just tell me a website or book I can go to to learn how to do this myself. Thank you
  7. Jan 15, 2007 #6


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    We can suggest resources to learn about electrochemistry in general. As for your specific question, you haven't provided enough information to make a judgement.

    Real Books: Electrochemistry, by Glasstone or Physical Chemistry, by Atkins
    If the above books are unavailable, try these:
    (the rest of my bookmarks are returning dead links)

    Under certain conditions, the electroactive species wouldn't even be the baking soda, but instead the aqueous CO2 that forms from the hydrolysis of the bicarbonate. To know what will happen in an electrochemical cell, one needs to have a complete description of the cell. The reaction products will depend on the state and concentration of the electrolyte (molten bicarbonate or aqueous solution), the electrodes used, and the voltage supplied. For instance, at low dilutions, and high voltages (~2V), the electroactive species at the anode might simply be water, which gets oxidized to O2. I hope you're getting the point here.

    If you want to build some specific electrolytic cell, please provide all the details you have about what cell you want to build, and what the purpose is. It's virtually impossible for us to guess what this is all about, and assist accordingly.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2007
  8. Aug 4, 2009 #7
    Hmm... Interesting forum. I have a similar question. A friend of mine has installed a crudementay electrolysis system on his GMC S-10 and has been tinkering with it in a hope to improve it. We actually met when he came into RadioShack where I work looking for a variable potentiometer to put in the system so he could control the current because it was overheating and burning up some of the parts. Basically he has a glass Mason jar with a baking soda and water solution in it. Attached to the bottom of the plastic lid is an X shaped plastic piece about six inches long (the length of the jar). Wrapped around the X is two copper wires of about 8 or 10 guage and about half an inch apart all the way down the X. Obviously, the hydrogen and oxygen are being formed and collected together in the one jar. He's using the vacuum system on the engine to draw the resulting gases into the engine's carburator. Through tinkering with the amount of baking soda, vacuum system and coiling/wires on the X, he claims to have gotten as much as 320 miles on only 6 gallons of gas. I am currently tossing around ideas of capturing the hydrogen and oxygen seperately and storing an excess under slight pressure so that under hard acceleration there will still be enough to boost gas mileage/power. I have also suggested better anode/cathode materials to him such as zinc, lead, and nickel since his copper keeps deteriorating too fast. I'm still researching this part as well so any suggestions will be appreciated. Anyways, my question is, what is the chemical equation of electrolysis of baking soda and water? I've done electrolysis of just water many times and understand it well but really not sure why the addition of baking soda seems to be helping his system. 2H2O(l) --> 2H2(g) + O2(g). Water, under electrolysis, produces 2H2 at the cathode and O2 at the anode but what happens when NaHCO3 is introduced, what gases will be produced and where, and what will remain in the jar? We are, of course, using 12V. He does have an in-line amp meter in the system and seems to start having heat problems around 6 amps, so I told him I'd try to find him a variable potentiometer that works between 1.2 ohms and 12 ohms to give him a variance of 1 to 10 amps. Another question/concern of mine is what's happening to the 2H2 and O2 as it travels to the engine? Won't they recombine into water before it even reaches the engine? Lastly, some incite into the reaction within the engine would be GREATLY appreciated too so that I might adjust the gasoline, O2, H2, and air mixture for best mileage. Thank you in advance for your time and knowledge.
  9. Aug 4, 2009 #8
    I think I might have found part of my answer! :smile: Is the baking soda mostly just acting as an electrolyte?
  10. Aug 11, 2009 #9


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