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Chemical Effects of Electric Current

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  • Last Updated : 25 Oct, 2022
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Chemical reactions occur when an electric current flows through a conducting material. This chemical action of electric current is termed the Chemical Effect of Electric Current. For example, Hydrogen and oxygen separate from water when an electrical current is applied to it. Over the negative pole, hydrogen is deposited, and over the positive pole, oxygen is. Bubbles are evidence of hydrogen and oxygen deposition at various poles. Some liquids are good conductors and some are poor conductors of electricity. But, most of the liquids that conduct electricity are the solutions of acids, bases, and salts. Let’s understand the concepts of the Chemical Effects of Electric Current in this article!

Chemical Effects of Electric Current

British chemist William Nicholson demonstrated that when the electrodes are submerged in water and a current is passed through the water, oxygen and hydrogen bubbles are released. He observed that the electrode attached to the negative terminal produced hydrogen bubbles, whereas the electrode connected to the positive terminal produced oxygen bubbles.

Electric current is the phenomenon of charge moving between any two points. Moreover, an electric current produces magnetic fields, electrochemical processes, and various chemical effects. Chemical effects of electric current are defined as chemical reactions in solutions carried on by the conduction of electric current.

When an electric current is passed through a solution of a metal salt, such as a solution of copper sulfate, copper metal deposits at the negative electrode since the metal is positively charged. This is a great example of a chemical reaction. As a result, this method makes it simple to extract metal from its salt.

Mostly observed chemical effects of electric current are:

  1. Formation of bubbles of gas on the Electrodes,
  2. Deposition of metal on Electrodes
  3. Change in color of Solutions

Do Liquids Conduct Electricity?

It is advised not to touch any electrical item with moist hands. It is dangerous to use moist hands to operate an electrical appliance as it causes harm to us. Some good and bad conductors of electricity:

Good conductors of electricity are materials that allow an electric current to flow through them. Materials that do not easily allow an electric current to flow through them, are poor conductors of electricity. Metals such as copper and aluminum have been discovered to carry electricity, whereas rubber, plastic, and wood do not.

For example, as shown below two circuits are shown, where one has impure water as the tester to complete while the other has distilled water. It has been observed that the circuit completed with impure water conducts the electricity and made the bulb glow. However, the other circuit completed with distilled water does not conduct the electricity and the bulb doesn’t glow. This is because of the fact that impure water act as a good conductor, as it contains impurities, which help to carry the current through it. Moreover, distilled water does not contain anything that can help to generate electricity through it and hence is a bad conductor or good insulator of electricity.

Chemical Effects of Electric Current 1

 

Applications of Chemical Effects of Electric Current

The circuit of the tester is complete when the liquid between the two ends of the tester permits the electric current to pass. The bulb lights when current flows across the circuit. The circuit of the tester is not complete and the bulb does not glow when the liquid does not allow the electric current to flow.

Chemical Effects of Electric Current 2

 

Despite the fact that a material can carry electricity, It may not be able to carry electricity like a metal. The tester’s circuit may be complete, the fact that the current flowing through it may be too weak to light the bulb. In that case, the effect of an electric current is considered to create a different type of tester. Regardless of whether the current is small, it is possible to observe a magnetic needle deflection. A tester is made by using the magnetic effect of current.

Electroplating: Women are frequently seen wearing jewelry that looks to be made of gold. The gold covering, however, fades off with time, revealing silver or another metal beneath. Metal has a covering of another metal in this case.

Electroplating is the process of depositing a layer of any desired metal on another material using electricity. It’s one of the most frequent uses of electric current’s chemical effects.

Electroplating

 

Let us understand the process of Electroplating with an example: 

  • Copper sulfate dissociates into copper and sulfate when an electric current is passed through the solution. 
  • The free copper gets drawn to the electrode linked to the battery’s negative terminal and gets deposited on it. 
  • An equivalent amount of copper is dissolved in the solution from the other electrode. 
  • As a result, copper is lost from the solution. The process is still in progress as the loss of copper from the solution is restored. 
  • This means that copper gets transferred from one electrode to the other.

The procedure of electroplating is really beneficial. In industry, it’s commonly used to coat metal things with a thin layer of a different metal. The layer of metal deposited has some desired property, which the metal of the object doesn’t have. For example, chromium plating is done on many objects such as automobile parts, bath taps, kitchen gas burners, bicycle handlebars, wheel rims as well as numerous others. It has a shiny appearance, does not corrode, and resists scratches.

Applications of Electroplating

  • To prevent corrosion and rust, zinc is applied to the iron.
  • Silver and gold plating for jewelry.
  • Tin is less reactive than iron, it is used to coat tin onto iron for cans.

FAQs on Chemical Effects of Electric Current

Question 1: When the free ends of a tester are dipped into a solution, the magnetic needle shows deflection. Can you explain the reason?

Answer:

The effect of an electric current is considered to create a different type of tester. Regardless of whether the current is small, it is possible to observe a magnetic needle deflection. A tester is made by using the magnetic effect of current. The magnetic needle deflection indicates that the circuit is complete and that the solution conducts electricity, indicating that it is a good conductor.

Question 2: When the free ends of a tester are dipped into a solution, the magnetic needle shows deflection. Can you explain the reason?

Chemical Effects of Electric Current Question 2

 

Answer: 

Due to the following reasons, the bulb may not glow:

  • A loose connection: A loose connection makes the circuit incomplete as it does not allow current to flow in the circuit.
  • A fuse bulb is used: A fuse bulb does not glow as the filament gets broken.
  • A discharged battery is used: A discharged battery doesn’t have power stored in it.
  • The liquid used is distilled water: Distilled water is a poor conductor of electricity because it lacks dissolved salts that can provide it with ions needed to conduct electricity.
  • A weak current is flowing in the circuit: A weak current does not have the power to heat the filament up to a level that makes then glow.

Question 3: Does pure water conduct electricity? If not, what can we do to make it conduct?

Answer:

No, pure water doesn’t conduct electricity. When salt is dissolved in pure water, it conducts electricity as it provide it with ions needed to conduct electricity.

Question 4: What are conductors and insulators?

Answer:

Conductors are materials that allow an electric current to flow through them. Materials that do not easily allow an electric current to flow through them, on the other hand, are poor conductors of electricity. Metals such as copper and aluminum have been discovered to carry electricity, whereas rubber, plastic, and wood do not.

Question 5: What is electroplating? 

Answer:

Electroplating is the process of depositing a layer of any desired metal on another material using electricity. It’s one of the most frequent uses of electric current’s chemical effects.

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