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Calculate the cell potential of the electrochemical cell in which the following reaction takes place, and represent the cell using standard notation.

M g ( s ) + 2 H + ( a q ) M g 2 + ( a q ) + H 2 ( g )

  1. M g 2 + + 2 e - M g (E o V = -2.37)

    2 H + + 2 e - H 2 (E o V = 0.00)

  2. From the overall equation, it is clear that magnesium is oxidised and hydrogen ions are reduced in this reaction. Magnesium is therefore the anode reaction and hydrogen is the cathode reaction.

  3. M g | M g 2 + | | H + | H 2
  4. E ( c e l l ) 0 = E 0 (cathode) - E 0 (anode)

    = 0.00 - (-2.37)

    = +2.37 V

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Predicting whether a reaction will take place spontaneously

Look at the following example to help you to understand how to predict whether a reaction will take place spontaneously or not.

In the reaction,

P b 2 + ( a q ) + 2 B r - ( a q ) B r 2 ( l ) + P b ( s )

the two half reactions are as follows:

P b 2 + + 2 e - P b (-0.13 V)

B r 2 + 2 e - 2 B r - (+1.06 V)

Half cell reactions

You will see that the half reactions are written as they appear in the table of standard electrode potentials. It may be useful to highlight the reacting substance in each half reaction. In this case, the reactants are Pb 2 + and Br - ions.

Look at the electrode potential for the first half reaction. The negative value shows that lead loses electrons easily, in other words it is easily oxidised. The reaction would normally proceed from right to left (i.e. the equilibrium lies to the left), but in the original equation, the opposite is happening. It is the Pb 2 + ions that are being reduced to lead. This part of the reaction is therefore not spontaneous. The positive electrode potential value for the bromine half-reaction shows that bromine is more easily reduced, in other words the equilibrium lies to the right. The spontaneous reaction proceeds from left to right. This is not what is happening in the original equation and therefore this is also not spontaneous. Overall it is clear then that the reaction will not proceed spontaneously.

Will copper react with dilute sulfuric acid (H 2 SO 4 )? You are given the following half reactions:

C u 2 + ( a q ) + 2 e - C u ( s ) (E 0 = +0.34 V)

2 H + ( a q ) + 2 e - H 2 ( g ) (E 0 = 0 V)

  1. In the first half reaction, the positive electrode potential means that copper does not lose electrons easily, in other words it is more easily reduced and the equilibrium position lies to the right. Another way of saying this is that the spontaneous reaction is the one that proceeds from left to right, when copper ions are reduced to copper metal.

    In the second half reaction, the spontaneous reaction is from right to left.

  2. What you should notice is that in the original reaction, the reactants are copper (Cu) and sulfuric acid (2H + ). During the reaction, the copper is oxidised and the hydrogen ions are reduced. But from an earlier step, we know that neither of these half reactions will proceed spontaneously in the direction indicated by the original reaction. The reaction is therefore not spontaneous.

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A second method for predicting whether a reaction is spontaneous

Another way of predicting whether a reaction occurs spontaneously, is to look at the sign of the emf value for the cell. If the emf is positive then the reaction is spontaneous . If the emf is negative , then the reaction is not spontaneous .

Balancing redox reactions

We will look at this in more detail in the next section.

Predicting whether a reaction will take place spontaneously

  1. Predict whether the following reaction will take place spontaneously or not. Show all your working.
    2 A g ( s ) + C u 2 + ( a q ) C u ( s ) + 2 A g + ( a q )
  2. Zinc metal reacts with an acid, H + (aq) to produce hydrogen gas.
    1. Write an equation for the reaction, using the table of electrode potentials.
    2. Predict whether the reaction will take place spontaneously. Show your working.
  3. Four beakers are set up, each of which contains one of the following solutions:
    1. Mg(NO 3 ) 2
    2. Ba(NO 3 ) 2
    3. Cu(NO 3 ) 2
    4. Al(NO 3 ) 2
    Iron is added to each of the beakers. In which beaker will a spontaneous reaction take place?
  4. Which one of the following solutions can be stored in an aluminium container?
    1. Cu(SO) 4
    2. Zn(SO) 4
    3. NaCl
    4. Pb(NO 3 ) 2

Electrochemical cells and standard electrode potentials

  1. An electrochemical cell is made up of a copper electrode in contact with a copper nitrate solution and an electrode made of an unknown metal M in contact with a solution of MNO 3 . A salt bridge containing a KNO 3 solution joins the two half cells. A voltmeter is connected across the electrodes. Under standard conditions the reading on the voltmeter is 0.46V.
    The reaction in the copper half cell is given by: Cu Cu 2 + + 2 e -
    1. Write down the standard conditions which apply to this electrochemical cell.
    2. Identify the metal M. Show calculations.
    3. Use the standard electrode potentials to write down equations for the:
      1. cathode half-reaction
      2. anode half-reaction
      3. overall cell reaction
    4. What is the purpose of the salt bridge?
    5. Explain why a KCl solution would not be suitable for use in the salt bridge in this cell.
    (IEB Paper 2, 2004)
  2. Calculate the emf for each of the following standard electrochemical cells:
    1. M g | M g 2 + | | H + | H 2
    2. F e | F e 3 + | | F e 2 + | F e
    3. C r | C r 2 + | | C u 2 + | C u
    4. P b | P b 2 + | | H g 2 + | H g
  3. Given the following two half-reactions:
    • F e 3 + ( a q ) + e - F e 2 + ( a q )
    • M n O 4 - ( a q ) + 8 H + ( a q ) + 5 e - M n 2 + ( a q ) + 4 H 2 O ( l )
    1. Give the standard electrode potential for each half-reaction.
    2. Which reaction takes place at the cathode and which reaction takes place at the anode?
    3. Represent the electrochemical cell using standard notation.
    4. Calculate the emf of the cell

Questions & Answers

Do polymers form restrictedly only if compound is saturated, only?
milani Reply
what is a free fall?
Beyanca Reply
is when The Only Force acting On an Object is Gravitational Force
Thats right
then Why ask when you Know the answer?
She's just helping those who forgot it...bro
guys I need help on Getting ready for a last minute test
Kenelioe Reply
what help you need
we'll I'm in grade 12 so we doing this topic about upac thing
on What?
the organic molecule section
you should also look at structural isomers. Its crucial that they might add that one. also try and write down the structural formula of all the given compounds on the table
hi guys i can explain everything in terms of physics and chemistry
Neil Reply
guys 2mrrow I'm writing a test in chemistry I need help
Hi guys. Can anyone please tell me what a functional group is?
a functional group depends on how many bonds there are between carbon atoms, if there are single bonds all the way it's an alkane, if there is a presence of at least one double bond it's a Alkene and if there's at least one triple bond it's an alkyne.
which quantity is measured in Watt?
Saara Reply
explain for me absai
is Power Not Work work is Measured In Joules it has Energy
what is galvanic cell ?
Oratile Reply
is an electrochemical cell that derives electrical energy from spontaneous redox reactions taking place within the cell.
how to understand alkane names
Sboniso Reply
suffix Ane in the IUPAC NAMING
elaborate a little more plz
Alkanes are Saturated Meaning they don't have Multiple Bonds between Carbon Atoms and When you are Naming THEM THEY MUST END WITH (-ANE ) GET ME?
What are hydrocarbons
Phelo Reply
are organic Compounds with only Carbon and Hydrogen Atoms
whats the difference between aldehydes and ketones
Angel Reply
definition of chain parent
Lea Reply
what is wave?
Agness Reply
when butane burns in an excess of oxygen ,the products are
CO2 and H2O
Carbon dioxide and Water...
what is hydrocarbon
Ntswaki Reply
Hydrocarbon is a compostion of mainy carbon and hydrogen
hydrocarbon compound made up of carbon and hydrogen only
25 element of physics
musah Reply
an object will remain at rest or move at a constant velocity unless acted upon a net force
Lebogang Reply
thank you
law of inertia
an object resisting the change in velocity.
newton first law of motion
An object will remain at rest, unless an unbalanced force acts on it.
or uniform motion
What is a molecule
Thabiso Reply
a molecule is a simplest structure unite of an elements
thank you
Plz remind me the 1st Newton's law

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 12 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11244/1.2
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