Electric Potential and Cells Electric Potential Electrons travel

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Electric Potential and Cells

Electric Potential and Cells

Electric Potential • Electrons travel through a circuit with different amounts of energy. That

Electric Potential • Electrons travel through a circuit with different amounts of energy. That is why a 1. 5 V cell does not give you a shock while a shock from an outlet at 120 V could seriously harm you. • The energy that each electron has is called the electric potential. • Electric potential is commonly referred to as voltage. The SI unit (Système International d’Unités) used to measure electric potential is the volt, and the symbol is V.

Electrochemical Cells Primary Cells • In a primary cell, chemical reactions use up some

Electrochemical Cells Primary Cells • In a primary cell, chemical reactions use up some of the materials in the cell as electrons flow from it. When these materials have been used up, the cell is discharged and cannot be recharged. • There are two basic types of primary cells: the primary wet cell (voltaic cell) and the primary dry cell.

The Primary Wet Cell • The primary wet cell, or voltaic cell, was developed

The Primary Wet Cell • The primary wet cell, or voltaic cell, was developed in 1800 by an Italian scientist, Alessandro Volta. It is called a wet cell because it is made of two pieces of metal that are placed in a liquid. The metal plates, usually zinc and copper, are called electrodes. The liquid in the cell is called an electrolyte (a liquid that conducts electric current). • The zinc electrode collects negative charge and therefore is called the negative terminal (anode) and the copper electrode collects positive charge and is called the positive terminal (cathode). • These electric charges remain static on each electrode. Cells discharge only when connected to a closed electric circuit.

The Primary Dry Cell • The familiar primary dry cell functions in the same

The Primary Dry Cell • The familiar primary dry cell functions in the same way as a primary wet cell, but the electrolyte is a moist paste rather than a liquid. When most of the negative electrode has been used up by the chemical reaction, the electrons stop flowing, and the cell is discharged. • It is unsafe to recharge disposable (primary) cells and batteries. The chemical reaction is not reversible in these cells, so attempting to recharge them only makes them heat up and possibly explode. • Over time, even unused dry cells may discharge, that is why an expiry date is printed on the packaging.

Secondary Cells • Unlike single-use, disposable primary cell, a secondary cell can be discharged

Secondary Cells • Unlike single-use, disposable primary cell, a secondary cell can be discharged and recharged many hundreds of times. • It is called a secondary cell because there are two chemical processes involved, one to discharge the cell, and another to recharge it to its original state.

Cells in Series • The electric potential given to a single electron by a

Cells in Series • The electric potential given to a single electron by a dry cell has an absolute maximum value of slightly under 2 V. The value depends on the two materials used for the two electrodes of the cell. By connecting cells together in a series circuit, it is possible to obtain much higher voltages. Vtotal = V 1 + V 2 + V 3 + … • The total voltage available is the sum of all cells connected in series.

Cells in Parallel • Sometimes the amount of voltage is enough with one dry

Cells in Parallel • Sometimes the amount of voltage is enough with one dry cell; however the size of the cell (which determines the amount of chemicals) does have a limit based on what it powers. If the cells must last longer, or provide voltage for longer periods of time they are connected in parallel. In this configuration, each cell contributes at charging electrons (more electrons charged at once), but the electric potential is not changed. Vtotal = V 1 = V 2 = V 3 = … • The total voltage available is the voltage of the highest cell.