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Electrolysis of Molten Salts

Discusses how sodium metal can be produced from molten salt and what water does to this reaction.

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Brine, Be Mine?

What is the process of the electrolysis of brine?

Electrolysis is the chemical change produced in an electrolyte by an electric current. Commercially, it is highly important, used to separate elements from sources that occur in nature. Brine is water which is heavily saturated with salt, NaCl. So no, it’s not the best thing in the world to drink, but the electrolysis of brine is useful for many demonstrations and experiments.

Credit: PEO ACWA
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/acwa/7514364128/lightbox/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The Brine Reduction System at the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant [Figure1]

First, use these resources to understand the process of the electrolysis of brine:

Now, watch the demonstration of the actual electrolysis of brine with these videos:

During electrolysis, at the positive electrode, the anode, chlorine gas forms. Hydrogen gas accumulates at the negative electrode, the cathode. Finally, a solution of sodium hydroxide forms.

Creative Applications

  1. Review what you now know about the electrolysis of brine. Use the first resource link to resolve any of your questions. What do you learn?
  2. Can the process of electrolysis be conducted for substances other than brine? If so, what are some examples?
  3. If possible, try a lab experiment on the electrolysis of brine or any other substance (ask your science teacher for help). If you are successful, describe what you learn by performing the actual experiment compared to reading about and watching videos on the topic.


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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: PEO ACWA; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/acwa/7514364128/lightbox/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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