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Activation Overpotential
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Definition - What does Activation Overpotential mean?
Activation overpotential is the energy lost due to the slowness of
electrochemical reactions at the anode and the cathode electrodes.

Activation overpotential is a measure of the activity of electrodes. It


represents the overpotential required for electrochemical reaction—the
current density (typically small) at which the overpotential is measured.

Activation potential is the potential difference above the equilibrium


value required to produce a current which depends on the activation
energy of the redox event. While ambiguous, "activation overpotential"
often refers exclusively to the activation energy necessary to transfer an
electron from an electrode to an analyte.

Modeling Corrosion and Corrosion Protection

Corrosionpedia explains Activation Overpotential


Activation overpotential is a condition occurring when the reaction rate is
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controlled by the slowest "step" in a series of reaction steps. For
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1. Hydrogen ions are absorbed from the solution onto the anode
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surface.
2. Electron transfer occurs from anode to the hydrogen ions to
form hydrogen.
3. The hydrogen elements form hydrogen gas molecules.
4. Hydrogen gas bubbles form.

The slowest of these four steps dictates how fast the overall reduction
reaction happens.

In electrochemistry, overpotential is the potential difference (voltage)


between a half-reaction's thermodynamically determined reduction
potential and the potential at which the redox event is experimentally
observed. The term is directly related to a cell's voltage efficiency.

There are three categories of overpotentials:

Activation
Concentration
Resistance

Factors affecting activation overpotential:

Current density
Materials
Surface roughness
Temperature
Pressure
pH
Agitation
Adsorption of ions

At low current density, the shape of the polarization curve is governed by


the activation overpotential, which arises from the kinetics of charge
transfer reactions across interfaces and represents the magnitude of
activation energies when reactions propagate at the rate required by the
current. This depends on:

Type of reactions and catalyst materials


Electrode microstructure
Reactant activities
Electrolyte material (acidic/alkaline)
Temperature
Current density

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Related Terms
Polarization
Anodic Polarization
Cathodic Polarization
Electrode Potential
Hydrogen Overvoltage
Activation Controlled Corrosion
Current Density
Catalyst
Hydrogenation
Gouge Hardness

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