Electrolytes Essay, Research Paper

Electrolytes are liquids that conduct electricity. Most

need to be dissolved into water or another solvent.

Battery’s have an electrolyte in them, either as a liquid or

as a paste. Liquid electrolytes are used in electrolysis,

electroplating, and other chemical processes.

When electrolytes dissolve they release positive and

negative ions. The released ions carry electric charges

between electrodes, in the solution. Cations (a positively

charged ion that migrates to the cathode, a negative

electrode) carry positive electric charges toward the

cathode. Anions carry negative electric charges toward the

anode, positive electrode.

Strong electrolytes release many ions and conduct

electricity well. Weak electrolytes, like acetic acid,

don’t release many ions and conduct poorly. Non

electrolytes, like sugar, release no ions and form non

conducting solutions.

A couple electrolytes conduct electricity as solids.

These solid electrolytes have ions that can move and carry

charges without solvents.

There are two ways to be able to have ions that are

able to conduct electricity, the dissociation of Ionic

Compounds, and the Ionization of Polar Covalent Molecular


The Dissociation of Ionic Compounds is where particles

are ionically (electrically) bonded together. They already

made out of cations and anions, but in their solid state the

ions are locked into position in their crystal structure,

and can’t move around. When the ionic compound is dissolved

into water the water molecules, which are polar,(having a

positive and a negative end) will be attracted to the

positive ions. This attraction of different charges will

create tension in the crystal and it will overcome the

attice (the arrangement of molecules in a crystalline solid)

energy keeping the crystal in place. Once this happens the

cations will be surrounded by water molecules, and so will

the anions. This is called the solution process. This

makes a lower order of organization of the ions. The ions

are now in a simpler form so they have higher mobility, and

can carry electrical particles to conduct electricity.

Salts that are completely dissolvable in water are

usually strong electrolytes. The salts that are barely

dissolvable are weak. The strength of an electrolyte is

measured by its ability to conduct electricity.

There’s also the way of Ionization of Polar Covalent

Molecular Substances. Polar molecular substances are

substances whose atoms are co-valently bonded. Each

molecule has a net molecular dipole moment (the product of

the distance between two poles of a dipole and the magnitude

or either pole) that is made because of the dipole moments

of the bonds do not cancel each other out. This dipole

moment makes each dipole having a positive and negative end

to the molecule. If the molecules are small enough, polar

water molecules can line up around the polar molecules

attracted to the negative ends and vise versa. This

attraction is called intermolecular force, This force can

overcome the dissociation energy of a bond within the polar

molecule. The dissociation energy is the least amount of

energy needed to break a bond between two atoms. If this

happens then the polar molecule will fragment with the

broken bond. This will make ions where there wasn’t any to

begin with. This is called ionization, and will end up with

ions in the molecule promoting electrical current flow. If

the bonds within the molecule are easier to break by the

water molecules then the degree of ionization will be

greater. More current will be conducted. These are strong


Electrolytes are needed for the regulation of body

fluids, and the transmission of electrical impulses. They

are lost through perspiration, and have to be replaced.

There is no daily recommendation because they’re so abundant

it’s easy to get enough.

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