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Voltaic Cells

Introduces voltaic cells, the elements essential to their function and discusses how they are quantified.

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Portable Power

Portable Power

Credit: Robert Lopez
Source: CK-12 Foundation
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A convenience that is becoming more widespread in the modern age is the ability to use a so-called mobile device.  These devices rely exclusively on batteries to store their electrical energy in a chemical form.  No chemistry means no cellphone!

Amazing But True!

  • Energy comes in many different forms.  However, it would be of little use to us if we didn’t know how to store it until we needed to use it.  Energy is stored in many substances.  Some examples include fossil fuels, food, and batteries.  Amazingly, all of these methods store energy in the chemical bonds of compounds.  The energy is subsequently released and transformed into heat and kinetic energy (fossil fuels and food) or electrical energy (batteries).
  • While modern mobile devices are clearly cutting-edge technologies, you might be surprised to know that modern voltaic cells and batteries have origins that are approximately 300 years old.
  • Batteries are also used in most automobiles. The all electric Tesla Roadster uses lithium-ion battery cells to travel 200 miles per charge. It also set the world distance record of 311 miles on a single charge on October 27, 2009. Electric vehicles give another meaning to the phrase portable power. 
  • Credit: Wikimedia
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Roadster_2.5_windmills_trimmed.jpg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    The all electric Tesla Roadster starts with a base price of $109,000 [Figure2]

  • Watch this video to learn more about the beginnings of the battery: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tc0rUH9omAU&list=PLF601B6D268517022&index=2

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  1. What chemical processes occur at the anode and cathode of a voltaic cell?
  2. What is the purpose of a salt bridge in a voltaic cell?
  3. What are the components that are generally required to construct a battery or a voltaic cell?
  4. A pair of electrons is being transferred from Ni0 to Cu2+.  Which component is being oxidized and which component is being reduced?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Robert Lopez; Source: CK-12 Foundation; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Wikimedia; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Roadster_2.5_windmills_trimmed.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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