School Chemistry: Describing & explaining electrolysis of hydrochloric acid
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ELECTROLYSIS of HYDROCHLORIC ACID
(Suitable for AQA, Edexcel and OCR GCSE chemistry students)
ELECTROCHEMISTRY revision notes on electrolysis, cells, experimental methods, apparatus, batteries, fuel cells and industrial applications of electrolysis
7. Using an electrolysis cell - investigating the electrolysis of hydrochloric acid
Methods of investigating the electrolysis of dilute hydrochloric acid solution are described. The formation of the products of electrolysing aqueous hydrogen chloride are fully explained with the appropriate electrode equations. What are the products of the electrolysis of hydrochloric acid solution?
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7. The electrolysis of hydrochloric acid
The products of electrolysing hydrochloric acid are hydrogen gas and chlorine gasYou can demonstrate the electrolysis of hydrochloric acid using the Hoffman voltammeter with platinum electrodes (right diagram). The Hofmann voltammeter is filled with the electrolyte (hydrochloric acid) by opening the taps at the top of the outer tubes to allow any gas to escape. The gases formed on the electrolysis of the dilute hydrochloric acid can be collected via the same taps.
In the simple electrolysis cell (left diagram), the graphite (carbon) electrodes are, through a large rubber bung, 'upwardly' dipped into an solution of dilute hydrochloric acid. In this cheap and simple apparatus the gaseous products (hydrogen and chlorine) are collected in small test tubes inverted over the carbon electrodes. You have to fill the little test tubes with the electrolyte (dil. hydrochloric acid), hold the liquid in with your finger and carefully invert them over the nearly full electrolysis cell. The electrolysis will only take place when electricity is passed through the dilute hydrochloric acid solution.
In both experiments above the platinum or carbon electrodes are inert. You can also use the simple apparatus illustrated on the right, using two inert metal wire electrodes.
The electrolysis will only take place when electricity is passed through the hydrochloric solution
The electrolyte hydrochloric acid, provides a high concentration of hydrogen ions H+ and chloride ions Cl to carry the current during the electrolysis process.
The electrode reactions and products of the electrolysis of dil. hydrochloric acid are illustrated by the theory diagram above.
The electrode half-equations for the electrolysis of dilute hydrochloric acid HCl(aq)
(a) The negative cathode electrode reaction for the electrolysis of hydrochloric solution
(b) The positive anode electrode reaction for the electrolysis of hydrochloric solution
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