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Define or explain the term: Electrolysis.

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Solution

Electrolysis is the process that involves decomposition of an electrolyte, on passage of electric current through a substance it in its aqueous state and its ions are discharged at electrodes by the process of oxidation and reduction.

The process is generally carried out in a vessel called the electrolytic cell, which contains two electrodes (cathode and anode; generally made up of metal plates, wires or graphite), through which electricity enters and leaves the electrolyte. The anode is connected to the positive terminal, while cathode is connected to the negative terminal of the battery. The ions in the electrolyte are responsible for the flow of current through it. Electrolysis occurs with the help of direct current (DC) only. On passing electricity, the ions move towards opposite electrodes. At the cathode, reduction takes place, whereas oxidation takes place at the anode. The preferential discharge of ions occurs with respect to their positions in the electrochemical series. The products of electrolysis are formed at both electrodes. Generally, metals and hydrogen gas is liberated at cathode, while non-metals are liberated at anode.

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