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What are the Applications of Electrolysis?
What is Electrolysis?
The process in which ionic substances are decomposed into simple substances by passing an electric current through them is known as electrolysis.
In other words, the process based on the fact that electrical energy can produce chemical changes is known as electrolysis.
Applications of Electrolysis
Nowadays the electrolytic process is widely used in various industrial applications. The major applications of the electrolysis are given below.
Extraction of Metal from their Ores
The electrolytic process is used for extracting out the pure metal from their ores, this process is known as electro-extraction. In the electro-extraction, the metal ore is treated with strong acid or is melted and then a DC current is passed through the resulting solution, the solution is decomposed and pure metal is deposited on the cathode.
Refining of Metals
Electrolysis is also used for refining of metals and the process is termed as electro-refining. In electro-refining, the anode of impure metal is placed in a suitable electrolytic solution. When DC current is passed through the solution, pure metal is deposited on the cathode.
Manufacturing of Chemicals
The electrolytic process is also used for manufacturing of various chemicals. When an electric current is passed through the solution of some compound, the compound gets breakdown into its constituent components which are liberated at the anode and cathode, which in turn can be collected.
The electro-deposition is an electrolytic process, in which one metal is deposited over the other metal or non-metal. The electro-deposition is usually used for the decorative, protective and functional purposes.
An electrolytic process in which a metal is deposited over any metallic or non-metallic surface is called the electroplating. Electroplating is usually used to protect the metals from corrosion by atmospheric air and moisture.
Electro-deposition of Rubber
Electrolysis is also employed for electro-deposition of rubber. The rubber latex obtained from the tree consists of very fine colloidal particles of rubber suspended in water. These particles of rubber are negatively charged. On electrolysis of the solution, these rubber particles move towards the anode and deposit on it.
The electrolytic process in which the metal is deposited on a conducting base for decorative and for protective purposes is termed as electro-metallization. Also, by using the electro-metallization process, any non-conductive base is made conductive by depositing a layer of graphite over it.
An electrolytic process in which a metallic surface is coated with a harder metal by electro-deposition in order to increase its durability is known as electro-facing.
Electrolysis is also used for electro-forming, it is the reproduction of an object by electro-deposition in order to increase its durability.
In the electro-forming, i.e. reproduction of medals, coins, etc., a mould is made by impressing the object in wax. The wax surface having exact impression of the object is coated by powdered graphite to make it conducting. This mould is then dipped in an electro-forming cell as cathode. After obtaining a coating of desired thickness, the article is removed and the wax core is melted out of the metal shell.
The electrotyping is an electrolytic process for forming metal parts that exactly reproduce a model. It is a special application of electro-forming and is mainly used to reproduce printing, set up tying, medals, etc.
The electrolysis process of deposition of an oxide film on a metal surface is known as anodizing. It is mainly used to increase the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the surface of the metal parts.
The electro-polishing is an electrolytic process that removes materials from a metallic workpiece. It is also known as electrochemical polishing or electrolytic polishing.
Electro-polishing uses a combination of rectified current and a blended chemical electrolyte bath to remove flaws from the surface of a metal part.
Electro-refining is a method for purifying a metal using electrolysis. In the electro-refining process, the anode is made of impure metal and the impurities must be lost during the passage of metal from the anode to cathode during electrolysis.
An electrolytic process of separation of two or more metals is known as electro-parting or electro-stripping.
Electro-cleaning is the process of removing soil, scale or corrosion from a metallic surface. It is also known as electro-pickling. It is a form of electroplating which can be applied to all electrically conductive materials.
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