Unit 5 Section 2 Electrochemical Series

HideShow resource information

What is an Electrochemical Series?

Electrochemical series: A list of electrode potentials written in order from most negative to most positive.

Electrode potential: the voltage measured when a half-cell is connected to a standard hydrogen electrode

An electrochemical series shows you what's reactive and what's not. The more reactive a metal is, the more it wants to lose electrons to form a positive ion. More reactive metals have more negative standard electrode potentials.

The more reactive a non-metal the more it wants to gain electrons to form a negative ion. More reactive non-metals have more positive standard electrode potentials.

1 of 5

Predicting the Outcome of Reactions - Part 1

e.g. Will zinc react with aqueous copper ions?

1. Find the two half equations for the redox reaction, and write them both out as reduction reactions:

  • Zn,2+(aq) + 2e,- <<<>>> Zn(s) and Cu,2+(aq) + 2e,- <<<>>> Cu(s)

2. Use an electrochemical series to work out which half-equation has the more negative electrode potential:

  • Zn,2+/ZN = -0.76 V

Cu,2+/Cu = +0.34 V

3. Put the half equation with the more negative electrode potential on top of the other one:

  • Zn,2+(aq) + 2e,- <<<>>> Zn(s)

Cu,2+(aq) + 2e,- <<<>>> Cu(s)

2 of 5

Predicting the Outcome of Reactions - Part 2

4. Draw on the anti-clockwise arrows:

  • Zn,2+(aq) + 2e,- <<<>>> Zn(s) <--- anti-left

Cu,2+(aq) + 2e,- <<<>>> Cu(s) ---> anti-right

5. Look at the non-pointy ends of the arrows to work out if the reaction would happen:

  • The substance at the ends of the arrows are Zn(s) and Cu,2+(aq). So zinc will react with aqueous copper(II) ions. (The arrows show that the zinc half-reaction goes backwards and the copper half-reaction goes forwards, so the overall equation is: Zn(s) + Cu,2+(aq) >>> Zn,2+(aq) + Cu(s))
3 of 5

Predicting the Outcome of Reactions - Part 3

e.g. Will silver react with aqueous magnesium ions?

Following the same steps as before, you get:

Mg,2+(aq) + 2e,- <<<>>> Mg(s) <--- anti-left = -2.38 V

Ag,+(aq) + e,- <<<>>> Ag(s) ---> anti-right = +0.80 V

Here, the substances at the non-pointy ends of the arrows are Mg(s) and Ag,+(aq). So, the magnesium will react with aqueous silver ions, but silver and aqueous magnesium ions will not react.

4 of 5

Finding the Cell Potential

You can also use the anti-clockwise rule to find cell potentials. To find the cell potential use this formula:

  • E*cell = (E*bottom - E*top)

Zn/Cu electrochemical cell = 0.34 - (-0.76) = +1.10 V

Mg/Ag electrochemical cell = 0.80 - (-2.38) = +3.18 V

5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Chemistry resources:

See all Chemistry resources »See all Period 3 and Redox Equilibria resources »