What is the importance of the solution in an electrochemical cell?

In summary, the presence of an electrolytic solution is crucial in electrochemical cells as it allows for the flow of ions and the occurrence of redox reactions. In the case of a Zn/ZnSO4 and Cu/CuSO4 cell, the electrochemical series dictates that Zn will reduce Cu, causing a reaction to occur. In the scenario of having an Ag electrode in a copper solution, the reaction would still proceed as the electrode is inert and the overall reaction would still involve Zn reducing Cu in solution. Similarly, in a Ag/AgNO3 and Cu/Zn(NO3)2 cell, Cu would displace Ag in solution due to its higher reactivity, while Zn2+ would act as a spectator
  • #1
stfz
35
0
I'm wondering about the importance of the electrolytic solution in an electrochemical cell.
For example, we have Zn/ZnSO4 and Cu/CuSO4.
According to the electrochemical series, Zn will reduce Cu, and we will have a reaction.
Zn(s) -> Zn2+(aq), Cu2+(aq) -> Cu(s).
So there MUST be Cu2+ in the solution. But what about the electrode? If I had an Ag electrode in a copper solution, would the reaction proceed? (I am told it will not... but why?) The same net reaction would take place - Zn reducing Cu in solution, causing Cu to plate onto Ag. The only difference is that the electrode carrying electrons is now Ag.
Similarly, if I had a Ag/AgNO3 solution and a Cu/Zn(NO3)2 solution, would Cu displace Ag in solution still? I mean, Cu oxidize to Cu2+ and enter solution even if there is Zn(NO3)2?
Somewhat confused :P
Help would be appreciated :)
 
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  • #2
stfz said:
If I had an Ag electrode in a copper solution, would the reaction proceed?

Yes. Electrode can be inert in this case - besides, once few first copper atoms get reduced, you are back at a square one, copper electrode and copper in the solution.

stfz said:
Similarly, if I had a Ag/AgNO3 solution and a Cu/Zn(NO3)2 solution, would Cu displace Ag in solution still?

Yes, Zn2+ would be just a spectator.

2Ag+ + Cu -> 2Ag + Cu2+
 

Related to What is the importance of the solution in an electrochemical cell?

1. What is an electrochemical cell?

An electrochemical cell is a device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy through a redox reaction. It consists of two electrodes, an anode and a cathode, which are immersed in an electrolyte solution and connected by a wire. The flow of electrons from the anode to the cathode produces an electrical current.

2. What is the importance of the solution in an electrochemical cell?

The solution in an electrochemical cell plays a crucial role in the functioning of the cell. It acts as a medium for the movement of ions, which are necessary for the redox reaction to occur. The type and concentration of the electrolyte solution can also affect the rate of the reaction and the overall efficiency of the cell.

3. How does the solution impact the voltage of the electrochemical cell?

The voltage of an electrochemical cell is determined by the difference in the standard electrode potentials of the two electrodes. The electrolyte solution can affect this voltage by influencing the activities of the ions in the solution. Changes in ion concentration or the presence of other ions can alter the potential difference between the electrodes.

4. What are some common solutions used in electrochemical cells?

Some common solutions used in electrochemical cells include acids, such as sulfuric acid and hydrochloric acid, and bases, such as sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide. Salt solutions, such as sodium chloride and potassium nitrate, are also commonly used. The specific solution used depends on the type of electrochemical cell and the desired reaction.

5. How does the choice of solution affect the overall performance of an electrochemical cell?

The choice of solution can significantly impact the performance of an electrochemical cell. The concentration and type of electrolyte solution can affect the rate of the reaction, the voltage of the cell, and the overall efficiency. Choosing the right solution is crucial in optimizing the performance of the cell and achieving the desired results.

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