1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How does the electrolyte in a battery work?

  1. Dec 22, 2014 #1
    An electrolyte is neutral, so what allows it to conduct exclusively positive ions in a battery and not electrons?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 22, 2014 #2

    Bystander

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Cu wire is neutral, so what allows it to conduct exclusively electrons in an external circuit and not positive ions?
     
  4. Dec 22, 2014 #3
    I don't understand what your getting at.
     
  5. Dec 22, 2014 #4

    Bystander

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    You're objecting to one "neutral" medium transporting charge carriers, and you have no objection to a second "neutral" medium transporting charge carriers. It's the same question. What physical processes are you interested in understanding?
     
  6. Dec 22, 2014 #5
    I see, I want to understand what physical process allows either conductor (the Cu or the electrolyte) to transport a exclusively a positive or negative charge
     
  7. Dec 22, 2014 #6

    Bystander

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Cu atoms are playing "hot potato" with electrons given a potential difference between the ends of the conductor that is sufficient that electrons can make the jump, or be tossed from one atom to the next. What are analogous structures/entities in an electrolyte solution?
     
  8. Dec 22, 2014 #7
    In an electrolyte, a the charges in a substance such as NaCl are divorced from one another and form ions i.e. negative and positive charges. If there are equal proportion of each in an electrolyte(making the substance neutral), what then makes the electrolytes cater to positive ions in particular?
     
  9. Dec 22, 2014 #8

    Bystander

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Generally, they do not. Depends on the cathodic and anodic reactions in the cell. If electrode potentials are such that cations are being reduced, cations will be moving from the "cell anode" where they are constantly being produced either by oxidation of anode material, or components of the solution to the "cell cathode" where they are reduced. Any given volume increment of the solution remains electrically neutral as anions play "hot potato" with the cationic drift. Other cell and electrode reactions might be forming anions at the "cell cathode" and those anions move to the anode to be oxidized.
     
  10. Dec 22, 2014 #9

    nsaspook

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    This is a good diagram of the flooded lead acid battery redox. The charge separation from the chemical reactions creates an electric field and the free ions in the electrolyte move to neutralize the field in response until the system reaches equilibrium.

    http://ecee.colorado.edu/~ecen4517/materials/Battery.pdf
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: How does the electrolyte in a battery work?
  1. How do battery works? (Replies: 2)

Loading...