Encyclopedia of Applied Electrochemistry
Electrochemistry provides the opportunity to run chemical redox reactions directly with electrons as reaction partners and against the free energy gradient via external electrical energy input into the reaction system. It also serves as a way to efficiently generate energy from stored energy in chemical bonds. Applied electrochemistry has been the basis for many industrial processes ranging from metals recovery and purification to chemical synthesis and separations since the latter half of the 1800s when large-scale electricity generation became possible. Electrochemical processes have a large impact on energy as it has been estimated that these processes consume about 6–10 % of the world’s electricity generation capacity. Applied electrochemistry is now impacting industry and society more and more with technologies for waste water treatment, efficient chemical separation, and environmental sensing and remediation. Electrochemistry is the foundation for electrochemical energy storage by batteries and electrochemical capacitors and energy conversion by fuel cells and solar cells. In fact, applied electrochemistry will play a major role in the world’s ability to harness and use renewable energy sources. Electrochemistry is also fundamental to biological cell transport and many aspects of living systems and their activities. It is exploited for use in medical diagnostics to detect abnormalities and in biomedical engineering to relieve pain and deliver function.
The application of electrochemistry involves not just a fundamental understanding of the sciences, but also applying engineering principles to device and technology design by considering mass and energy balances, transport processes in the electrolyte and at electrode interfaces, and multi-scale modeling and simulation for predicting and optimizing performance. The interaction of the interfacial reactions, the transport driving forces, and the electric field defines the field of electrochemical engineering. The understanding of the scientific and engineering principles of electrochemical systems has driven advances in the application of electrochemistry especially during the last half century.
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