Electrochemistry. Galvanic and electrolytic cells

Would you like to know more about electrochemistry and its many applications?

The online electrochemistry simulations on this page will help you discover this important branch of chemistry, which has such interesting applications as electric batteries or electrolysis.

Electrochemistry is a branch of chemistry that studies chemical reactions involving electron transfer, i.e. the conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. These reactions occur in systems called electrochemical cells, which consist of two electrodes immersed in a conductive solution called electrolyte.

In an electrochemical cell, the electrodes are composed of conductive materials, such as metals or semiconductors, and are connected through an external circuit. During the reaction, electrons are transferred from one electrode to another through the external circuit, while ions move through the electrolyte to maintain charge neutrality.

There are two main types of electrochemical cells: galvanic cells (also known as batteries) and electrolytic cells. In a galvanic cell, the spontaneous chemical reaction generates electricity. This is the principle used in common batteries, such as alkaline or lithium-ion batteries.

On the other hand, electrolytic cells are devices in which an external electric current is applied to force a non-spontaneous chemical reaction. This process is used in electrolysis, where the components of a substance can be separated by applying an electric current, as in obtaining metals from their compounds or in the production of gases such as hydrogen and oxygen from water.

Electrochemistry has applications in many fields. In industry, for example, it is used for metal production, electroplating and surface coating. In the field of energy, electrochemistry is central to the generation and storage of energy in rechargeable batteries and fuel cell technology. In addition, electrochemistry plays an essential role in the research and development of new materials and in catalysis, which is the increase in the rate of chemical reactions by involving electrochemical catalysts.

Electrolysis of water

Electrolysis of water is the decomposition of water (H2O) into the gases oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2) by means of a direct electric current. To reduce the resistance to the passage of current through water, it is usually acidified by adding a small amount of sulfuric acid or by adding a strong electrolyte such as sodium hydroxide, NaOH.
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Electroplating is an electrochemical treatment consisting of coating a metal surface with cations of another metal contained in an aqueous solution.
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Standard reduction potential

The standard reduction potential is the potential of the electrode with respect to the standard hydrogen electrode. The more positive (+) the standard reduction potential, the easier it is to accept electrons than hydrogen ions. Check in the simulation what happens when the electrodes are changed.
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Polar and non-polar molecules

A polar molecule is a molecule with a non-uniform distribution of electric charge, resulting in it having a plus and a minus end, e.g. water. A non-polar molecule is a molecule with a uniform distribution of electric charge, resulting in it not reacting in the presence of electric fields, e.g. an oil.
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Molecule polarity

When is a molecule polar? Change the electronegativity of the atoms in a molecule to see how it affects polarity. See how the molecule behaves in an electric field. Change the bond angle to see how it affects the polarity shape.


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