How does an electrolysis cell differ from a galvanic cell?

1 Answer

Thanks for your question regarding electrolytic cells.

A galvanic cell runs spontaneously. You have two different electrodes and one has a higher reduction potential than the other. Electrons will flow from the electrode that is harder to reduce (the anode) to the electrode that is easier to reduce (the cathode). A galvanic cell is a device which changes chemical energy to electrical energy.

An electrolytic cell uses electrical energy to produce a chemical change. An electrolytic cell is NOT spontaneous. It requires electrical energy (like a battery or a power source) for the reaction to occur. This added energy forces the electrons to flow opposite to nature.

Electrolysis is very useful. Some examples of where it is used is in charging batteries, coating metals with less chemically reactive metals (like gold and silver plating), and isolating metals like aluminum from ores.

I tried to add a link showing you visuals, but it didn't work. Search electrolytic and galvanic cells and images.

Good luck!