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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 11 Issue 2 (2006) pp 84-87

Working Modes of Electrochemical Systems: The Driven Cell

Luis J. Perissinotti†,‡ and Sandra L. Quiroga †,*

Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Funes 3350, CP 7600, Mar del Plata, Argentina and Comisión de Investigaciones Científicas de la Provincia de Buenos Aires (CIC), Argentina,
Received Sept 28, 2005. Accepted December 4, 2005.

Published online: 2 February 2006

Abstract. In this article we describe all the possible working modes of electrochemical systems. In galvanic cells, a spontaneous chemical reaction is used to produce electrical work. In electrolytic cells, an applied voltage more positive than the cell potential forces a current through the cell and produces a chemical reaction that would not otherwise occur. A less explored behavior of electrochemical cells involves the application of an external voltage with the occurrence of a spontaneous chemical reaction. The current flow has the same direction as in a galvanic cell resulting in an increase in the spontaneous reaction rate; therefore, we call this mode a “driven cell.” Current-versus-voltage curves determined in the well-known Daniell cell and the practical examples discussed in this paper are relevant for the comparison of this working mode with those normally presented to the students. Thermodynamic characterization and sign conventions complete the description and promote the proper integration of concepts associated to electrochemical systems.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; outreach; polymers; iron chemistry

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Issue date: April 1, 2006

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