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Subject : General Chemistry 1 Laboratory Report

Subject Code : MF008

Programme : Foundation in Science

Name of Lecturer : Miss Annie Mathews

No. and Title of Expt: Experiment 7 - Half cells and the electrochemical series

Group No. : A12

I / We declare that the work submitted is my / our own. I / We confirm that I / We have read and understood the
University regulations with regard to Plagiarism, Collusion and Cheating in this work will be penalized.

No. Name of members Student ID Signature

1 Lim Shu Wen 1001645830

2 Yap Hwei Thung 1001746299

3 Teo Phaik Yin 1001746593

Assessment Criteria:

Criteria Check on relevant box Remarks by the lecturer

Cover page


Materials / Results


Discussion / Conclusion


Experiment 7

Half cells and the electrochemical series


Electrochemical cell is composed of two half-cells, which are made of different metals
(electrodes) dipped into a salt solution (electrolyte) and connected by a wire. When a metal strip
is placed in a solution of its metal ions, oxidation reaction or reduction reaction may take place.
These two reactions are prevented from occurring by the electrical potential (electromotive force,
emf) that would be developed. These reactions are then known as half-reactions (half-cell
reactions). The half-cell at which the oxidation reaction occurs is known as anode, whereas the
half-cell at which the reduction reaction occurs is known as cathode. There is no direct way to
measure the electromotive force of a half-reaction.

If two different metal electrodes are placed in each of the two solutions containing their
respective metal ions and connected by an external wire, whereby the solutions are electrically
connected by a salt bridge or a porous membrane that can prevent the solutions from mixing
together, the electrons will be able to move from one metal electrode, at which the oxidation half-
reaction is: M1 M1n+ + ne- to the other metal electrode, where the reduction half-reaction is:
M2n+ + ne- M2. From these two half-reactions, the M1 metal dissolves into the solution as metal
ions, whereas the M2n+ ions plate out. Thus, the overall cell reaction or redox reaction is: M1 (s)
+ M2n+ (aq) M1n+ (aq) + M2 (s). Electromotive force (emf) of an electrochemical cell then can
be measured.


To construct a few different electrochemical cells and use them to determine the relative positions
of various pairs of oxidants and reductants in the electrochemical series.


Each 4 small Beakers containing 1M of the following solutions: Copper (II) nitrate, Magnesium
nitrate, Lead (II) nitrate, Zinc nitrate, Strips of the following metals: Copper, Magnesium, Lead,
Zinc, Strips of filter paper, 1M solution of potassium nitrate, Voltmeter, Crocodile clips,
Connecting wires.

1. Construct the following half cells:

a. Cu / Cu; a beaker containing a copper electrode and 30 mL copper(II) nitrate
b. Mg 2+ / Mg; a beaker containing a magnesium ribbon and 30 mL magnesium sulphate
c. Pb / Pb; a beaker containing a lead rod and 30 mL lead (II) nitrate solution
d. Zn 2+ / Zn; a beaker containing a zinc electrode and 30 mL zinc nitrate solution
2. Make a salt bridge by soaking a strip of filter paper in a beaker of potassium nitrate solution.
Join the Cu2+ / Cu and Zn 2+
/ Zn half-cells using the salt bridge. Attach two wires to the
voltmeter and clip the other end of one wire to the copper electrode. Momentarily touch the
loose end of the second wire to the zinc electrode. If the needle of the voltmeter is deflected
onto the scale, clip this loose end of the wire to the zinc electrode and proceed with the
next step. If the needle of the voltmeter is deflected below zero, swap the wires at the
terminals of the voltmeter before continuing.
3. Record the voltage and identify the positive and negative electrodes. (The positive
electrode is connected to the positive terminal of the voltmeter).
4. Disconnect the metals. Remove and discard the salt bridge.
5. Repeat steps 2 4 for each of the other five combinations of half-cells.
In each combination, use a new salt bridge.


Solutions Voltage reading + electrode electrode

Zn2+ + Cu2+ 0.000878 V Cu Zn
Mg2+ + Cu2+ 0.001662 V Cu Mg
Pb2+ + Cu2+ 0.000501 V Cu Pb
Mg2+ + Zn2+ 0.000684 V Zn Mg
Mg2+ + Pb2+ 0.001114 V Pb Mg

1. What is the function of the salt bridge?

A salt bridge is a connection containing a weak electrolyte between the oxidation and
reduction half-cells in a galvanic cell.

2. Write half equations for the reactions occurring in each half cell and hence write
an overall equation for the reaction in each cell.

Zn2+ + Cu2+ :
Half equations:
Zn Zn2+ + 2e-
Cu2+ + 2e- Cu

Overall equation :

Zn(s) + Cu2+(aq) Zn2+ (aq) + Cu(s)

Mg2+ + Cu2+ :

Half equations
Mg Mg2+ + 2e-
Cu2+ + 2e- Cu

Overall equation :

Mg(s) + Cu2+(aq) Mg2+ (aq) + Cu(s)

Pb2+ + Cu2+ :

Half equations
Pb Pb2+ + 2e-
Cu2+ + 2e- Cu

Overall equation :

Pb(s) + Cu2+(aq) Pb2+ (aq) + Cu(s)

Mg2+ + Zn2+ :

Half equations
Mg Mg2+ + 2e-
Zn2+ + 2e- Zn

Overall equation :

Mg(s) + Zn2+(aq) Mg2+ (aq) + Zn(s)

Mg2+ + Pb2+ :
Half equations
Mg Mg2+ + 2e-
Pb2+ + 2e- Pb

Overall equation :

Mg(s) + Pb2+(aq) Mg2+ (aq) + Pb(s)

3. Write down the conventional representation of each of the cell that you have





4. Write the order of reactivity of the metals used in this experiment. Explain why you have
decided with this order.
Mg, Zn, Pb, Cu
In the reactivity series of metals, the most reactive element is placed at the top of the series
and the least reactive element is placed at the bottom. More reactive metals have a greater
tendency to lose electrons and form positive ions, by displacing a less reactive metal from
its salts solution. Among all, Mg is placed at the top of the electrochemical series of metal
and Cu is placed at the bottom of the electrochemical series of metal. In additional to that,
the higher the voltage reading, the further the distance between two metals in
electrochemical series. This also shows the reaction between more reactive metal and the
less reactive metal.


Internet document Robert Asato. Electrochemical Cells. Makahiki Kapiolani Community

College. http://makahiki.kcc.hawaii.edu/chem/everyday_electro.html
BBC Bitesize - GCSE Chemistry - Reactivity series - Revision 5,
bbc.co.uk, http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/guides/zqjsgk7/revision/5