Suppose I did this reaction by dipping a $\ce{Zn}$ rod in $\ce{CuSO_4}$ solution.

$\ce {CuSO4 + Zn -> ZnSO4 + Cu}$

Is there a way to reverse this reaction to

$\ce{Cu + ZnSO4 -> Zn + CuSO_4}$?

If so, how?


Short answer: The reverse reaction can occur using an electrolytic cell.

Long answer: There are two types of cell-electrochemical cell and electrolytic cell.

  1. Electrochemical cell uses a spontaneous reaction to convert chemical energy to electrical energy.

$\ce{CuSO4 + Zn -> ZnSO4 + Cu}$

This reaction is spontaneous and the cell setup for this reaction is an electrochemical cell.

  1. Electrolytic cell is just the opposite of electrochemical cell. Non spontaneous reactions can be made to happen using an electrolytic cell.

$\ce{Cu + ZnSO4 -> Zn + CuSO4}$

This reaction is non spontaneous. Energy from an external source will be used to make this reaction happen. If you want to know how these cells work, refer to this site.


Yes,It is possible to reverse such reactions, given that you supply the required electrode potential in a cell with proper electrolytes, you can get the reverse reaction to occur

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can you please explain how to do that for this example? $\endgroup$ – Pranoy De Mar 13 '17 at 15:43

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