What are some applications of electrolysis?


Quick Answer

Electrolysis has a wide range of applications including production of hydrogen, manufacture of heavy water and synthesis of compounds such as potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide. It is also used to obtain such metals as sodium, magnesium, potassium and aluminum. Electrolysis is used to manufacture fluorine and chlorine.

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Full Answer

Electrolysis is the use of electric current to excite a non-spontaneous reaction. It is used to separate substances from naturally occurring sources including ores, such as removing aluminum from bauxite, an aluminum ore. Electrolysis is used to refine metals by extracting impurities from crude metals. The electrolytic refining of copper purifies copper for electrical applications. Copper extracted from its ore, referred to as blister copper, is usually 98 to 99 percent pure but can be refined electrolytically to 99.95 percent pure.

Electrolysis is also applied in electroplating, the process of coating an inferior metal with a superior one. Electroplating protects the inferior metal from corrosion and makes it more pleasant in appearance.

Another important application of electrolysis is electroforming, the reproduction of items by electro-deposition on some kind of mold. Electroforming is used in the reproduction of gramophone record dices. Electrolysis is used to synthesize potassium permanganate and white lead, through a process called electrosynthesis.

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