Enhancing Copper Electrolysis Through Variable Modification

When an electric current is applied to a copper sulphate solution, the copper atoms dissolve into the solution from the positively charged anode. At the same time, positive copper ions (cations) are discharged at the negatively charged cathode. Normally, anions with a negative charge are discharged at the anode.

The objective of my experiment is to monitor the accumulation of Copper (Cu) metal during the electrolysis process of Copper Sulphate solution (CuSo4) using Copper electrodes. I will evaluate the quantity of accumulated Copper by modifying different variables.

The aim of this inquiry is to modify the variables in the experiment to affect both the reaction rate and the buildup of copper metal at the cathode.

These variables might include:

· Voltage

Concentration of solution and quantity of solution are related.

Surface area and size of electrodes

· The temperature

The concentration of a solution can be measured using molarity.

The distance between the electrodes is measured as the space between them.

These variables can alter the rate of reaction.

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According to Ohm's law, changing the voltage of the circuit affects the rate of reaction. As charged particles move through a circuit, they encounter resistance and interact with conductor atoms. A higher resistance necessitates more energy to push the same number of electrons through the circuit. Consequently, increasing the voltage results in a greater flow of electrons and ultimately generates more energy output. Ultimately, a higher voltage in the circuit accelerates the reaction.

The concentration in a solution refers to the amount of solute present in a given volume of solvent.

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Generally, when the concentration of reactants is increased, liquid or gas reactions tend to have a faster reaction rate. However, there are instances where altering the concentration of one reactant may not greatly affect the rate. Nevertheless, it is commonly noted that higher concentrations do lead to an expedited reaction.

Although increasing the concentration of reactants does not always lead to a proportional increase in reaction rate, doubling the concentration can result in a doubled rate. However, the relationship between concentration and rate can be more intricate. For a reaction to happen, particles must collide, which is applicable to both homogeneous solutions and heterogeneous mixtures with solids. By having higher concentrations, collision chances improve as there are more reactive particles in the solution. This leads to more frequent collisions and an accelerated reaction rate. These principles also hold true when increasing the quantity of the solution.

The text shows a diagram of the molecules in the solutions, both in their normal state (on the left) and at a higher concentration (on the right).

Increasing the concentration causes an increase in the ratio of molecules in the solution to the reactant, leading to a higher number of collisions and ultimately a faster reaction.

Surface Area:

Particles must collide with the surface for a solid in a solution to undergo a reaction.

The larger the surface area of the solid,

As more particles collide with it each second,

Breaking up a substance into smaller pieces increases its surface area, which in turn leads to a faster reaction rate.

The reason catalysts have a high reaction rate is due to their large surface area, which is why they are often in powder form. The powder further increases the speed of the reaction.


When the temperature of a reaction is increased, the particles within it move at a faster pace. This leads to an increase in the frequency of collisions between them. Consequently, the reaction rate also increases. In fact, for every 10 °C increase in temperature, the reaction rate doubles.

The gradient of the graph plot will be twice as steep.

The shaded area in the diagram below represents the number of reacting particles, determined by the collision value. The collision value indicates the energy needed for a reaction to happen. Increasing temperature supplies more energy to particles, leading to a higher rate of successful collisions. As a result, this speeds up the reaction and causes an increased number of collisions.

Considering all these factors, I make the following prediction:

Increasing the current used in electrolyzing the copper sulfate solution results in a larger amount of copper being deposited on the copper cathode.

Increasing the current causes a decrease in the mass of the anode.

Electrolysis induces alterations in ions, which are electrically charged particles present in all electrolytes. In the designated copper sulphate solution, there exist positively charged copper ions (Cu2+) and negatively charged sulphate ions (S2-). While in its solid state, copper sulphate retains tightly bound ions arranged in a structured lattice impeding their mobility. Conversely, within the chosen copper sulphate solution for this experiment, the ions lack structure and are capable of unrestricted movement, thereby facilitating their reaction.

During the electrolysis of copper sulphate solution, the negatively charged cathode attracts positively charged copper ions due to the principle that opposite charges attract. When the copper ions reach the cathode, they take electrons from it, neutralizing their positive charge and transforming into copper atoms. As a result, these discharged copper ions undergo a transformation and are deposited as solid copper metal on the surface of the cathode. Consequently, an increase in mass is observed at the cathode over time during this experiment.

The negative sulphate ions are attracted to the positive anode because opposite charges attract. The sulphate ions have an excess of two electrons, while the anode has a deficit of electrons, which gives it a positive charge. When the sulphate ions approach the anode, it attracts their electrons and causes them to lose their extra two electrons, transforming into neutral sulphur atoms. This sulphur stays in the solution and may settle at the bottom of the beaker during the experiment. However, the decrease in mass of the anode is caused by the power supply forcibly removing copper's electrons from it.

As the cathode gains mass, the anode loses it.

Faraday's Law states that the increase in mass at the cathode is equal to the decrease in mass at the anode.

The amount of copper deposited on the cathode and lost from the anode is determined by the number of electrons passing through the circuit. This quantity of electrons is equal to the charge passed through the power supply, represented as q in Coulombs, which measures electricity flow. One Coulomb corresponds to one ampere flowing for one second. In terms of electricity amount, 96,500 Coulombs is equivalent to one faraday or one mole of electricity. The charge passed, q, is directly connected to the current, I (in amps), and the time duration, t (in seconds). The formula for this relationship is:

q = It

By utilizing this equation, I can forecast the outcomes of my investigation.

Observing the constant time for this experiment reveals that an increase in circuit current results in a proportional increase in charge passed. As a result, copper deposition on the cathode increases while copper loss at the anode also increases.

The text below outlines the method used.


We will choose two copper electrodes with comparable surface area and length. One of the electrodes will be labeled as the cathode, carrying a negative charge, while the other electrode will function as the anode, holding a positive charge. We will document and note down the weight of the anode. The diagram below illustrates the circuit setup we intend to use.

My apparatus will be composed of:

Two Copper Electrodes, with one serving as the Anode (+) and the other as the Cathode (-).

The item is called Beaker.

Ø Ammeter

Copper Sulphate Solution

Battery Power Pack

Ø Crocodile Clips

Circuit Wires


Ø Scales

The experiment involves adjusting the power supply to different voltage settings, starting at 2 volts and increasing to 4, 6, 8, and finally 12 volts. The power supply will be on for five minutes at each setting. After five minutes, the anode will be removed, dried, weighed, and its mass recorded. By subtracting the recorded mass from the initial mass, we can determine the weight loss. This process will be repeated for each voltage setting up to 12 volts. To ensure accuracy, the experiment will be conducted two more times using different electrodes each time. We will calculate the average of all results obtained. It is important to wear safety glasses throughout this experiment because exposure to copper sulphate can cause eye irritation and damage.

In order to maintain fairness in the experiment, only the current will be modified while keeping all other factors constant. This includes ensuring that the resistance in the circuit, surface area of electrodes, and electrolysis time remain unchanged. These variables can be easily controlled; however, there may be slight variations in electrolysis time due to manual stopping of the timer, which could introduce human error.

The surface area of the two electrodes can be maintained constant, as the experiment will use the same electrodes. The resistance, however, may be difficult to control due to the presence of resistance in the wires when the circuit is connected. Nevertheless, if the same wires are used throughout the experiment, this issue can be avoided since the resistance will remain consistent. Additionally, the current can be adjusted at the beginning of the experiment using a variable resistor to ensure its constancy.

The measurements in this experiment will be as accurate as possible given the available equipment. The mass of the anode will be measured with a scale that is accurate to three decimal places. The time can potentially be measured to one hundredth of a second using the electronic stop-clock, but due to human error in stopping the timer, the time can only be considered accurate to one second. In order to ensure reliable results, each reading will be repeated three times.

To guarantee accuracy, multiple results will be obtained. If one or two of the results are incorrect, the remaining two or three can still provide accurate measurements. The weight measurement will focus solely on the anode since it is the electrode that experiences mass loss. On the other hand, the cathode gains mass due to copper deposition. By weighing only the anode, potential inconsistencies caused by transferring and drying processes can be avoided. Consequently, obtaining a precise measurement of gained mass becomes possible.

Updated: Feb 16, 2024
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Enhancing Copper Electrolysis Through Variable Modification. (2016, Jul 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/investigating-the-rate-of-electrolysis-essay

Enhancing Copper Electrolysis Through Variable Modification essay
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