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The Electrochemical Series

 

The electrochemical series (see below) is an orderly arrangement of metals and their ions based on how well the ions accept electrons and become reduced.

The lower the position of metals and their ions in the series, the more likely their ions are reduced at the cathode, hence the more the preference for them been discharged.

Notice that during electrolysis, reduction occurs at the cathode.

The Electrochemical Series

electrochemical-series

Example, in the presence of H+ and Na+ in a solution, and if all other factors are constant, H+ will accept electrons more readily and subsequently be discharged at the cathode in preference to Na+.

The electrochemical series also shows the arrangement of negatively charged particles which migrate to the anode. In the same way as above, the lower the position of a negatively charged particle in the series, the more likely it gives off electrons and become oxidized at the anode.

Example, considering all other factors constant, a solution containing OH- and SO42- ions will have the OH-, which is lower in the electrochemical series discharged at the anode in preference to SO42-.

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