|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
I understand that in a copper/zinc voltaic pile with a sulfuric acid electrolyte, the zinc decomposes to zinc ions (in the electrolyte) and releases electrons, which travel through the external wire to the copper electrode. These electrons then combine with the positive hydrogen ions in the electrolyte and hydrogen gas is deposited at the copper electrode. What i dont understand is how this would occur with salt water as the electrolye (NaCl - aqeueous). I know (from research) that a voltaic pile using salt water as the electrolyte will indeed generate electricity, however it seems unlikely to me that pure sodium would deposit at the copper electrode (as the hydrogen did). this seems odd to me because zinc is lower in the reduction potential chain than sodium and so would not reduce it and also because sodium is not something often found in its pure form. Does some new reaction take place? what happens to the electrons and ions in this voltaic pile?
Re: what happens in a copper/zinc voltaic pile with salt water electrolyte
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