Electrode vs Electrolyte
Electrolyte and electrode are two very important concepts discussed in the fields of electrochemistry. An electrolyte is basically a solution of ions. An electrode is a device that is used to create an electrical connection between a conductor and a non-conductor. Both of these concepts are widely used in fields such as electrolysis, metal plating, physical chemistry, thermodynamics and various other fields. In this article, we are going to discuss what electrode and electrolyte are, their definitions, similarities of electrode and electrolyte, and finally the difference between the electrode and electrolyte.
Electrolyte is a concept that is vital in many chemical systems. An electrolyte is a solution, which has free positive and negative ions. First we will see what an ion is. A molecule consists of atoms. Each atom has an equal number of electrons and protons. When an electron is removed from an atom, the net charge of the atom becomes positive. This is known as a cation. When an electron is added to an atom, the net charge of the atom becomes negative; thus, creating an anion. Under normal condition, each solution has an equal amount of cations and anions. Either free electrons or free ions are required to conduct electricity. An electrolyte will always conduct electricity. There are two types of electrolytes. Ionic solutions such as Sodium Chloride or Potassium Chloride are called strong electrolytes. This is because these bonds are totally separated in aqueous solutions. Compounds such as Acetic acid and Ammonium Hydroxide are known as weak electrolytes. This is because only some of the molecules break into ions. Pure water is a very weak electrolyte and conducts almost no current. Most of the electrolytes are in solution form, but solid and molten electrolytes are also present.
The term electrode is used to refer the contact mechanism used to combine electrically a metallic part to a non-metallic part of an electrical circuit. The materials used in the electrodes are very important. The electrodes play a major role in the electrochemical cell also known as the Galvani cell. An electrochemical cell is made of an electrolyte and two electrodes of different materials. The metals in the periodic table are ordered in a list called the activity series. Metals with high activity are on the high end of the series and the metals having low activity are placed on the low end of the series. This series is based on the electrochemical cell.
What is the difference between Electrode and Electrolyte?
• Electrolyte is basically a medium for the current flow. Electrode is the connection between the conducting part of the circuit and non-metallic part of the circuit.
• The voltage generated from an electrochemical cell depends on the two metals used and the concentration of the electrolyte ions. If the two metals are far apart in the activity series, an electrochemical cell with these electrodes will create a high voltage.
• For electrolytes the voltage only depends on the ion concentration of the solution.