Essay, Research Paper: Electrolytes


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Electrolytes are liquids that conduct electricity. Most need to be dissolved
into water or another solvent. Batteryís have an electrolyte in them, either
as a liquid or as a paste. Liquid electrolytes are used in electrolysis,
electroplating, and other chemical processes. When electrolytes dissolve they
release positive and negative ions. The released ions carry electric charges
between electrodes, in the solution. Cations (a positively charged ion that
migrates to the cathode, a negative electrode) carry positive electric charges
toward the cathode. Anions carry negative electric charges toward the anode,
positive electrode. Strong electrolytes release many ions and conduct
electricity well. Weak electrolytes, like acetic acid, donít release many ions
and conduct poorly. Non electrolytes, like sugar, release no ions and form non
conducting solutions. A couple electrolytes conduct electricity as solids. These
solid electrolytes have ions that can move and carry charges without solvents.
There are two ways to be able to have ions that are able to conduct electricity,
the dissociation of Ionic Compounds, and the Ionization of Polar Covalent
Molecular Substances. The Dissociation of Ionic Compounds is where particles are
ionically (electrically) bonded together. They already made out of cations and
anions, but in their solid state the ions are locked into position in their
crystal structure, and canít move around. When the ionic compound is dissolved
into water the water molecules, which are polar,(having a positive and a
negative end) will be attracted to the positive ions. This attraction of
different charges will create tension in the crystal and it will overcome the
attice (the arrangement of molecules in a crystalline solid) energy keeping the
crystal in place. Once this happens the cations will be surrounded by water
molecules, and so will the anions. This is called the solution process. This
makes a lower order of organization of the ions. The ions are now in a simpler
form so they have higher mobility, and can carry electrical particles to conduct
electricity. Salts that are completely dissolvable in water are usually strong
electrolytes. The salts that are barely dissolvable are weak. The strength of an
electrolyte is measured by its ability to conduct electricity. Thereís also
the way of Ionization of Polar Covalent Molecular Substances. Polar molecular
substances are substances whose atoms are co-valently bonded. Each molecule has
a net molecular dipole moment (the product of the distance between two poles of
a dipole and the magnitude or either pole) that is made because of the dipole
moments of the bonds do not cancel each other out. This dipole moment makes each
dipole having a positive and negative end to the molecule. If the molecules are
small enough, polar water molecules can line up around the polar molecules
attracted to the negative ends and vise versa. This attraction is called
intermolecular force, This force can overcome the dissociation energy of a bond
within the polar molecule. The dissociation energy is the least amount of energy
needed to break a bond between two atoms. If this happens then the polar
molecule will fragment with the broken bond. This will make ions where there
wasnít any to begin with. This is called ionization, and will end up with ions
in the molecule promoting electrical current flow. If the bonds within the
molecule are easier to break by the water molecules then the degree of
ionization will be greater. More current will be conducted. These are strong
electrolytes. Electrolytes are needed for the regulation of body fluids, and the
transmission of electrical impulses. They are lost through perspiration, and
have to be replaced. There is no daily recommendation because theyíre so
abundant itís easy to get enough.
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