Chapter 18: Oxidation-Reduction

Enhanced Introductory College Chemistry

by Gregory Anderson; Caryn Fahey; Jackie MacDonald; Adrienne Richards; Samantha Sullivan Sauer; J.R. van Haarlem; and  David Wegman;

Chapter Contents

Except where otherwise noted, this OER is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Please visit the web version of Enhanced Introductory College Chemistry to access the complete book, interactive activities and ancillary resources.

In this chapter, you will learn about

  • The defining traits of redox chemistry
  • Identifying the oxidant and reductant of a redox reaction
  • Balancing chemical equations for redox reactions using the half-reaction method
  • The function of a galvanic cell and its components
  • The definitions of electrodes and cell potentials
  • The electrochemistry associated with several common batteries
  • Corrosion
  • The process of electrolysis

To better support your learning, you should be familiar with the following concepts before starting this chapter:

  • Ionic and Covalent Compounds
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Chemical Stoichiometry
A photograph is shown of a parked car plugged into a charging station in a paved parking area. The parking area is situated in a wooded area. People are walking in the background in the park-like atmosphere.
Figure 18a Electric vehicles are powered by batteries, devices that harness the energy of spontaneous redox reactions. (credit: modification of work by Robert Couse-Baker, CC BY 2.0)

In this chapter we will be introducing the chemistry of reduction-oxidation (redox) reactions. This important reaction class is defined by changes in oxidation states for one or more reactant elements, and it includes a subset of reactions involving the transfer of electrons between reactant species. Around the turn of the nineteenth century, chemists began exploring ways these electrons could be transferred indirectly via an external circuit rather than directly via intimate contact of redox reactants. In the two centuries since, the field of electrochemistry has evolved to yield significant insights on the fundamental aspects of redox chemistry as well as a wealth of technologies ranging from industrial-scale metallurgical processes to robust, rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles (Figure 18.a). In this chapter, the essential concepts of electrochemistry will be addressed.

Attribution & References

Except where otherwise noted, this page is adapted by David Wegman from “Chapter 17 Introduction” In General Chemistry 1 & 2 by Rice University, a derivative of Chemistry (Open Stax) by Paul Flowers, Klaus Theopold, Richard Langley & William R. Robinson and is licensed under CC BY 4.0. ​Access for free at Chemistry (OpenStax) .


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Enhanced Introductory College Chemistry Copyright © 2023 by Gregory Anderson; Caryn Fahey; Jackie MacDonald; Adrienne Richards; Samantha Sullivan Sauer; J.R. van Haarlem; and David Wegman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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