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Electrolytic vs. electrochemical vs. galvanic cells.

  1. Aug 18, 2007 #1
    So my question is what is the difference between these cells? This always confuses me. I know that electrolytic cells are nonspontaneous and that their cathode is negative which means that electrons are going against their gradients here. I am also aware of the fact that a galvanic cells is spontaneous and that the cathode is positive, however, I was unsure if this is its own cell type or is it a type of electrochemical cell?

    Thanks for clearing this confusion up for me!
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  3. Aug 18, 2007 #2


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    Drteeth, you just answered your own question. What confuses you?
    Electrolytic - The reaction needs energy to be put into the system from external source; otherwise the reaction does not happen.
    Galvanic - the reaction happens because it WANTS to happen; no energy needs to be supplied from the outside.
  4. Aug 18, 2007 #3
    **** ... i forgot that the anodes/cathodes are different charges, i was asked a bunch of questions on that on my final. eek!
  5. Aug 18, 2007 #4
    Ok, I think I figured this out - both electrolytic and galvanic cells are electrochemical cells. It was really just the classifications that I wasnt getting...

    Thanks for the help...
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2007
  6. Sep 13, 2011 #5
    In electrolytic cell, electrical energy is converted to chemical energy where as in galvanic cell, chemical energy is converted to electrical energy.
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