Electrolytic Cell – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Battery Technology Glossary Terms

I. What is an Electrolytic Cell?

An electrolytic cell is a type of electrochemical cell that uses electrical energy to drive a non-spontaneous chemical reaction. In other words, it is a device that converts electrical energy into chemical energy. Electrolytic cells are commonly used in various industrial processes, such as metal plating, electrolysis, and the production of chemicals.

II. How does an Electrolytic Cell work?

In an electrolytic cell, an external source of electrical energy is used to drive a non-spontaneous redox reaction. This is achieved by connecting two electrodes (anode and cathode) to an external power supply and immersing them in an electrolyte solution. The anode is the electrode where oxidation occurs, while the cathode is the electrode where reduction occurs.

When the external power supply is turned on, electrons flow from the anode to the cathode through the external circuit, while ions flow through the electrolyte solution. At the anode, oxidation takes place, and electrons are released into the external circuit. At the cathode, reduction takes place, and electrons are accepted from the external circuit. The overall result is a non-spontaneous chemical reaction that is driven by the external source of electrical energy.

III. What are the components of an Electrolytic Cell?

The main components of an electrolytic cell include:
1. Anode: The electrode where oxidation occurs.
2. Cathode: The electrode where reduction occurs.
3. Electrolyte: The solution that contains ions and allows for the flow of electricity.
4. External power supply: Provides the electrical energy needed to drive the non-spontaneous reaction.
5. External circuit: Allows for the flow of electrons between the anode and cathode.

These components work together to facilitate the non-spontaneous chemical reaction in an electrolytic cell.

IV. What is the purpose of an Electrolytic Cell in battery technology?

In battery technology, electrolytic cells are used to store and release electrical energy. Rechargeable batteries, such as lithium-ion batteries, use electrolytic cells to convert electrical energy into chemical energy during charging and vice versa during discharging. This allows for the storage and release of electrical energy in a portable and efficient manner.

Electrolytic cells are also used in fuel cells, which convert the chemical energy of a fuel into electrical energy through an electrochemical reaction. This technology is being explored as a clean and sustainable alternative to traditional fossil fuel-based power generation.

V. What are the different types of Electrolytic Cells used in batteries?

There are several types of electrolytic cells used in batteries, including:
1. Lithium-ion batteries: These batteries use lithium ions as the charge carriers and are commonly used in portable electronic devices.
2. Lead-acid batteries: These batteries use lead and lead dioxide electrodes in a sulfuric acid electrolyte and are commonly used in automotive applications.
3. Nickel-metal hydride batteries: These batteries use a nickel hydroxide cathode and a metal hydride anode and are commonly used in hybrid vehicles.
4. Flow batteries: These batteries use two electrolyte solutions that flow through a cell stack and are commonly used in grid energy storage applications.

Each type of electrolytic cell has its own unique characteristics and applications in battery technology.

VI. How is an Electrolytic Cell different from a Galvanic Cell?

An electrolytic cell is different from a galvanic cell in several ways:
1. Direction of electron flow: In an electrolytic cell, the external power supply forces electrons to flow from the anode to the cathode, driving a non-spontaneous reaction. In a galvanic cell, electrons flow spontaneously from the anode to the cathode, generating electrical energy.
2. Energy source: In an electrolytic cell, the energy source is an external power supply, while in a galvanic cell, the energy source is the chemical reaction itself.
3. Purpose: Electrolytic cells are used to drive non-spontaneous reactions, while galvanic cells are used to generate electrical energy from spontaneous reactions.

Overall, electrolytic cells and galvanic cells play different roles in electrochemical processes and have distinct characteristics that make them suitable for different applications.