Chemistry for non-chemists: Understanding electrochemical cells

Life on Earth is closely connected to electrochemistry. The principals of cells are used so as to make electrical batteries. Smartphones, laptops, and digital cameras all rely on batteries to operate. Batteries are everywhere in modern society. Do you know what they consist of? Electromechanical cells. Electrochemical cells create a flow of electrical charges – in other words, electricity. Although there is a wide range of electrochemical cells, batteries are usually made up of one or two galvanic or voltaic cells. Chemical reactions, as well as the production of energy, is automatic within the voltaic cell. Thank God for electrochemistry!

What is an electrochemical cell, anyway?

An a electrochemical cell is an instrument that is able to generate electrical energy from a chemical reaction or use electrical energy so as to facilitate the transformation of chemical substances. As mentioned earlier, there are several types of electrochemical cells. The most common ones are electrolytic cells and galvanic or voltaic cells. Let’s focus our attention on galvanic cells. They are usually referred to batteries, despite the fact that this isn’t a correct denomination.

Galvanic cells utilize chemical reactions to facilitate the production of electrical energy. The main components are two conductors, which represent the electrode and an electrolytic solution in which the electrodes are submerged. One electrode (the anode) allows electrons to leave the cell at the place of the oxidation. The other terminal (the cathode) brings the electrons back to the cell the moment that the potential energy is put to good use.

The internal resistance of electrochemical cells

In the world of electrochemistry, nothing is simple. Electrochemical cells are made from conductive materials, such as metals. They have one thing in common. We’re talking about a property called internal resistance. Internal resistance is the resistance that is generated inside the electrochemical cell to the flow of current. As the current flows in the cell, with time, the resistance makes the cell lose some of its potential. Simply put, there is a voltage drop caused by internal resistance of the battery.

What are the applications of electrochemical cells?

It goes without saying that the importance of electrochemical cells lies in the ability to provide us with portable energy, directly powering electronic equipment. Research in the field of electrochemical cells is of great interest for scientists, as well as engineers. The reason for this is that electrochemistry can help us improve our current systems of energy production and conservation.

Cell construction and potential

As a rule, any chemical reaction can be used in order to construct an electrochemical cell. An electrochemical cell can be made with materials lying around the house, like a bottle made from glass, diluted sulfuric acid, zinc plate, copper plate, wire, clip, LED, and hydrogen peroxide solution. All you have to do is put the zinc and copper plates into different recipients, add the sulfuric acid, link the two plates, and connect the LED. Attention needs to be paid to the fact that this kind of undertaking is dangerous.

Author Bio:
Rana Tarakji is an entrepreneur and a contributing writer at One SEO a digital marketing agency, who lives in Beirut, Lebanon. Rana Tarakji is passionate about digital marketing, startups, helping entrepreneurs grow, and empowering them to live their dreams. She has worked as a marketer, a technology co-founder and business developer, and a writer.