Definition - What does Electrolysis mean?

Electrolysis is a process whereby a direct current is passed through an ionic substance that is in a molten state or dissolved in a suited solvent. It is used to isolate elements from naturally occurring sources such as ores. This process produces a chemical reaction that separates the materials. Electrolysis requires a few components for it to occur, i.e., an electrolyte, a direct current electric supply and two electrodes.

Petropedia explains Electrolysis

Electrolysis uses a direct electric current along with electrodes and an electrolyte to drive a non-spontaneous chemical reaction that separates elements from naturally occurring sources. The main process includes the interchanging of ions and atoms by adding or removing electrons from an external circuit. This process is executed in an electrolytic cell. The electrolytic cell is an apparatus composed of two electrodes, i.e., a negative and a positive electrode, kept apart and they are dipped into a solution that contains negatively and positively charged ions.

Electrolysis is extensively used in extraction or purification of metals in compounds. It is used in the production of chloride gas, where a solution of molten sodium chloride undergoes electrolysis to obtain metallic sodium.

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