I'm conducting an experiment where I change the temperature of the sulfuric acid in a lead acid storage cell. My one question in controlling the variables is that should I let the electrodes also change in temperature, or should I keep them at room temperature and measure the cell potential? Does it even matter at all?

What I'm guessing is that a change in temperature affects the resistance of a metal, which would then affect the ability of the electrodes to transfer the electrons involved; therefore, the electrodes should be kept at room temperature.

If I should do one or the other, could someone explain to me why?

  • $\begingroup$ Andreas, thank you so much! I'm a student experimenting on how temperature will affect electrical power generated by a lemon battery. I have one question though. Do the ions of the electrolyte move more freely with the increase in temperature because kinetic energy increases alongside the temperature? Thank you so much... $\endgroup$ – KangWon Lee May 18 '19 at 14:08

In general the higher the temperature of the electrolyte, the more power you can draw from the cell.

The reason for this is, because the ions of the electrolyte can move more freely when the temperature is higher and chemical reactions do in general happen quicker with increased temperature.

On the other hand side the hotter a metal gets, the bigger its resistance will become. This is because electrons can’t move as freely when the temperature is increased.

However this effect usually is of importance when temperatures are quite high, like in an light bulb.

If you just heat the electrodes for 30-40°C, I doubt you would be able to even measure the difference in resistance (even though it does exist).

So to sum it up, the output power of a cell in relation to the temperature will mainly be altered by the temperature of the electrolyte.

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