Electrolysis seems to be one of the topics that comes up top during my online Chemistry tutoring sessions. So I am starting a short series of blog posts just on this topic aimed at GCSE students. Firstly, we must ask what the meaning of Electrolysis is:
- Electro – broadly speaking to do with electricity and the flow of electrons.
- lysis – breaking down, decomposing, loosening etc.
What we did there was to break up the word into its components. Well, that is not too far from the very process of electrolysis itself! Thanks to electricity we were able to discover elements that we previously had no idea that existed. The periodic table grew pretty fast due to this.
So thinking in terms of simple metal -non metal compounds, electrolysis simply reverses the process of ionic bonding and breaks the compound into the original elements it was formed from. This is only possible through a flow of electrons in a circuit, which is provided by the cell.
Seeing is believing so here is a short video that shows solid lead bromide melted under some intense heat and then given the electrolysis treatment.