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March 26, 2017

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What's the difference between a galvanic and electrolytic cell when trying to find which half-rxn is the anode or the cathode?

So like when you have two equations, depending on what kind of cell it's in, how can you tell which one is the anode and which one is the cathode?

I get really confused when trying to do electrochem problems. It'd be great if someone answered this. Thanks much!

  • Chemistry - ,

    You need only one definition and one (not definition).
    If you have heard all of this commotion about anode is + and cathode is -, forget all of that. It won't work.

    The definition you want is this one.
    Oxidation occurs at the anode. That's it.
    You just need to remember what oxidation is. It's the loss of electrons. Therefore, in galvanic cells, the anode is the negative electrode and the cathode is the positive electrode. In electrolytic cells the anode is the positive electrode and the cathode is the negative electrode. But you need not remember all of that stuff. Just remember, "oxidation occurs at the anode."

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