I am looking for the chemical equations for both the galvanization and electrolysis of saltwater utilizing copper and zinc. The closest I have gotten was from this site: Explanation for the reactions in a saltwater battery with zinc and copper electrodes

Although, that question and answer was exactly the format I was looking for and was impressive, the final equation was ultimately for galvanization in a two-tank bridged battery. I would like to see what the equation looks like for a single-tank with both copper and zinc sharing the same solution.

In addition, I would very much appreciate the reaction equation for the electrolysis version. If those answering could keep it to a similar format as the answer I linked above, it would be much appreciated.


If you dip a Copper plate and a Zinc plate into a salt solution, you create a galvanic cell, where Zinc is oxidized and is the negative pole. If you want to apply an external tension from another cell, the result depends on the choice of the positive and the negative poles. If you connect positive poles to the negative poles, both cells produce courant, and no electrolysis occurs.

If you want to have the $\ce{Zn/Cu}$ cell work in electrolysis, you first must connect both positive and both negative poles together, and apply an external tension greater that that of the $\ce{Zn/Cu}$ cell.

If you apply a sufficiently high tension to overcome the tension produced by the $\ce{Zn/Cu}$ cell, you will produce an electrolysis with the following reactions:

  • at the negative pole (Zn), for lack of any reducible ion in solution, H from water is reduced according to : $$\ce{H_2O + 2 e- -> H2 + 2 OH^-}$$
  • at the positive pole (Cu), two oxidation reactions may happen simultaneously : $$\ce{Cu-> Cu^{2+}} + 2 e-$$ with probably a side reaction :$$\ce{2H2O -> O2 + H+ + 4 e-}$$The relative importances of these reactions depend on the concentration of $\ce{NaCl}$. The first must be the most important .
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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the response, Maurice. Would you be able to include NaCl into the formulation? My primary goal is I'd like to see the result in equation form with all ingredients involved (Zn, Cu, H2O, NaCl, and there by products) first by galvanic reaction (the electrolyte providing current to something miscellaneous like a bulb) then taking the same exact solution/set up/by-product and then reversing it via electrolysis by introducing an opposite current (probably with a generator), in place of the bulb that was there during galvanization. Please let me know if this makes sense. Thank you! $\endgroup$ – Peter Mar 27 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ I'd like to see as much of the details such as if it produces hypochlorite, CuCl, NaOH, etc. Thank you very much! $\endgroup$ – Peter Mar 27 at 1:25

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