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What Is Electrolysis | Reactions | Chemistry | FuseSchool

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What Is Electrolysis | Reactions | Chemistry | FuseSchool

Electrolysis is electrical current flow through a liquid which causes chemical changes. The liquid can be a molten ionic compound or aqueous solution. The liquid will contain free-flowing positive ions and negative ions. The positive ions are called cations, and the negative ions are called anions.

Electrodes are submerged in the liquid (electrolyte solution) and connected to an electrical cell. The electrons will start to flow in the wires and this will cause one electrode to become positively charged (the anode) and the other negatively charged (the cathode). This has an immediate knock-on effect in the molten liquid, and the ions in it. The positive ions in the liquid (electrolyte) are attracted to the negative electrode (cathode). The negative ions in the liquid (electrolyte), is going to be attracted to the positive electrode (anode). This is because opposite electrical charges attract. When the ions meet the electrodes, electron exchange happens and this triggers a chemical reaction. Remember that electrolysis can also take place in ionic solutions as well as molten compounds. The more concentrated the solution, the greater the ion flow rate. Ion flow rate can also be increased by increasing the potential difference or voltage across the cell.

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