When was electrolysis first introduced?
The word "electrolysis" was introduced by Michael Faraday in the 19th century, on the suggestion of the Rev. William Whewell, using the Greek words ἤλεκτρον [ɛ̌ːlektron] "amber", which since the 17th century was associated with electric phenomena, and λύσις [lýsis] meaning "dissolution".
Electrolysis is the passing of a direct electric current through an ionic substance that is either molten or dissolved in a suitable solvent, producing chemical reactions at the electrodes and a separation of the materials.
The main components required to achieve electrolysis are:
An electrolyte: a substance, frequently an ion-conducting polymer that contains free ions, which carry electric current in the electrolyte. If the ions are not mobile, as in most solid salts, then electrolysis cannot occur.
A direct current (DC) electrical supply: provides the energy necessary to create or discharge the ions in the electrolyte. Electric current is carried by electrons in the external circuit.
Two electrodes: electrical conductors that provide the physical interface between the electrolyte and the electrical circuit that provides the energy.
Electrodes of metal, graphite and semiconductor material are widely used. Choice of suitable electrode depends on chemical reactivity between the electrode and electrolyte and manufacturing cost.
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Electrolysis By Suzanne