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Electrolysis is defined as the decomposition of a substance by means of an electric current. When an electric current is passed through water containing an electrolyte, the water molecules decompose via an oxidation–reduction reaction. Oxygen gas is generated at the anode, hydrogen gas at the cathode. The purpose of the electrolyte, such as sodium sulfate, is to provide ions that will “carry” the current through the solution. Depending on the nature of the electrolyte, different reactions may take place at the anode and the cathode during the electrolysis of an aqueous solution.

Concepts

  • Electrolysis
  • Anode vs. Cathode
  • Oxidation & Reduction
  • Cell Potential