10.2.1: Deduce a reactivity series based upon the chemical behaviour of a team of oxidising and also reducing agents. Displacement reactions of steels and also halogens (view 3.3.1) carry out an excellent experimental illustration of retask. Standard electrode potentials or reduction potentials are not required.

Reactivity series

It is feasible to organise a team of similar chemicals that undergo either oxidation or reduction according to their relative retask. Oxidation (and reduction) is a competition for electrons. The oxidising species (agents) remove electrons from various other species and also can force them to end up being reducing agents (releasers of electrons)

A excellent instance of this competition for electrons is the behaviour of steels. Metals always react by losing electrons (oxidation) they are then reducing agents. However before if a metals is in competition through metal ions the even more reactive steel have the right to oblige the much less reactive steel (in the form of ions) to accept electrons. This is referred to as a displacement reaction.

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Zinc reacts through a solution containing copper ions. The zinc steel is even more reenergetic than copper metal and also so it deserve to pressure the copper steel ions to accept electrons and also end up being metal atoms.

Zn(s) Zn2+(aq) + 2e
Cu2+(aq) + 2e Cu(s)

The zinc steel passes its electrons to the copper ions. We observe that the zinc creates a pink layer of coper on its surconfront and also the blue copper ion solution fades in colour.

We say that the zinc displaces the copper ions from solution.

Experipsychological observations

If we observe that there is a reaction between a metal and one more metal ion in solution this tells us that the solid steel is even more reactive than the steel of the dissolved steel ions.

Iron dislocations copper from a solution of copper II sulphate Copper displaces silver from a solution of silver nitrate

Given this indevelopment we have the right to deduce that the many reactive of the 3 metals is iron, followed by copper, complied with by silver. This allows us to arrange the steels right into a reactivity series based on these particular reactions

Reduction of steel oxides by metals

steel A + metal B oxide steel A oxide + metal B

When a steel A is heated through a steel B oxide tright here will certainly be a reaction if the free steel A is even more reenergetic than the metal B of the steel B oxide. This is because the metal B in the metal B oxide is in the form of a steel ion - it has actually already lost electrons.

There is a competition between the steel ion (in the oxide) and also the totally free steel for the electrons. The more reenergetic of the 2 steels will win the competition. Consequently if tbelow is a reactivity in between a steel and also a metal oxide then this tells us that the cost-free steel is even more reactive than the metal in the steel oxide.

Experimental observations

Magnesium reacts through zinc oxide:- Mg + CuO MgO + Cu Sodium reacts via magnesium oxide: 2Na + MgO Na2O + Mg Zinc reacts with copper oxide:- Zn + CuO ZnO + Cu

We have the right to usage this indevelopment to arrange the metals in order of reactivity

Sodium many reactive
Copper leastern reactive

Sodium has the greatest electron releasing power (and conversely the copper ions - Cu2+ - would have the best electron attracting power)

Predictions from reactivity series

Once a retask series is produced it deserve to be supplied to predict reactions of pairs of reactant. For instance in the table over it need to be appreciated that magnesium will react via copper oxide reducing it to copper steel.

Any metal that is even more reactive will react through compounds of much less reenergetic steels.

Reactivity series including non-metals

Metals react by shedding electrons - they are reducing agents. Non-steels react by getting electrons - they are oxidising agents. In the same means that metals have the right to be ordered in terms of reducing toughness, the non-steels have the right to be ordered in terms of their oxidising toughness. The halogens are a typical instance of a non-metal reactivity series.

Retask of the halogens

Fluorine most reactive
Iodine least reactive

Fluorine is so reenergetic that we cannot isolate it in the laboratory very quickly, as it reacts through both water and also glass. As an outcome we don"t generally resolve fluorine at pre-university level

yet compare just the other 3 (astatine is very rare and radioactive)

Do not confusage this order of reactivity through that of the steels - these are non-metals, their reactivity is in terms of oxidising power - i.e. chlorine is the best oxidising agent out of chlorine, bromine and iodine.

1. Chlorine will certainly displace bromine from services containing bromide ions

Cl2 + 2Br- Br2 + 2Cl-

In this reactivity the chlorine is oxidising the bromide ions by removing an electron from them. Bromine is liberated from the solution and may be detected by its orange/red colour

2. Bromine will certainly displace iodine from options containing iodide ions

Br2 + 2I- I2 + 2Br-

In this reactivity the bromine is oxidising the iodide ions by removing an electron from them. Iodine is liberated from the solution and might be detected by its orange/brvery own colour which transforms blue/babsence in the presence of starch indicator.

It is predictable, then, that chlorine will certainly also dislocation iodine from a solution containing iodide ions

10.2.2: Deduce the feasibility of a redox reactivity from a offered retask series.

Prediction of feasibility

Once a reactivity series is constructed depending upon the reduction or oxidation capacity of each species, we have the right to usage it to predict the feasibility (probability) of a reaction developing between any two pairs of reactants.

If one of the substances is a reducing agent - i.e. it reacts by shedding electrons then this must react through an oxidising agent - i.e. a species that gains electrons.



K K+ + 1e

ideal reducing agents (left hand side species)


Mg Mg2+ + 2e


Zn Zn2+ + 2e


Fe Fe2+ + 2e


Cu Cu2+ + 2e


H2 2H+ + 2e


2I- I2 + 2e


2Br- Br2 + 2e


2Cl- Cl2 + 2e

best oxidising agents (best hand also side species)

Any species from the appropriate hand side of among the redox equilibria (the oxidising agent) have the right to be predicted to react through any species above it on the left hand side of the redox equilibria (the reducing agent).

The species on the ideal hand also side of the equilibria will obtain electrons to go to the right hand side. They have the right to just acquire these electrons create species that are abopve them on the left hand side of the series.

We deserve to therefore predict that chlorine (best hand also side) will certainly react through copper (left hand side) to develop copper ions nad chloride ions according to the equation:

Cl2 + Cu Cu2+ + 2Cl-

Similarly, we deserve to predict that iodide ions (left hand side) will NOT react with zinc ions (left hand also side) as the zinc ions are bad oxidising agents and also the iodide ions negative reducing agents.

Note: although a reactivity may be predicted as feasible it does not suppose that it will occur spontaneously. If the activation power is high then it might require an extra "push" to gain it going. - for instance the reaction between chlorine and hydrogen needs a spark or ultraviolet light and also then it is explosively fast.

10.2.3: Describe and explain just how a redox reaction is provided to produce electricity in a voltaic cell. Students must have the ability to draw a diagram of a basic half-cell, and show how 2 half-cells deserve to be linked by a salt bridge to develop a whole cell. Ideal examples of half-cells are Mg, Zn, Fe and also Cu in options of their ions.

Electrical cells

As we have actually seen specific species shed electrons (reducing agents) and other species obtain electrons (oxidising agents) when reacting. If these species are not combined together however connected electrically about an external circuit then these electrons will circulation roughly the outside circuit producing an electroic current.

Each of the reacting species is then referred to as a half cell and the whole put up is referred to as an electrochemical cell. It is the basis behind the electrical battery.

An electrochemical cell


In this cell the zinc metal has actually a propensity to dissettle as ions leaving itselectrons on the electrode. The copper, which is a weaker reducing agent, is required to accept the electrons and also use then to turn the copper ions into copper at the copper electrode. As these electrons circulation around the outer (external) circuit they constitute an electric current

The "salt bridge" is normally a filter paper soaked in potassium nitrate solution (neither of these ions react via any other ions in the experiment). This "salt bridge" then allows ions to move in both directions equalising any construct up of electric charge in the beakers.

The zinc forces the copper ions to accept electrons and the as a whole cell equation have the right to be created by including together the 2 "half equations" over.

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Zn(s) Zn2+(aq) + 2e
Cu2+(aq) + 2e Cu(s)
overall: Zn(s) + Cu2+(aq) Zn2+(aq) + Cu(s)

This kind of cell can be built utilizing any type of pair of reducing and also oxidising agents. The better the distinction in the retask of one type of species (i.e. the reducing species) the greater the cell potential (voltage)

Consequently a cell built from zinc | zinc sulphate in one fifty percent cell and silver ! silver nitrate solution in the various other half cell will certainly have actually a higher voltage that the cell above (there is a better difference in reactivity in between zinc and silver than in between zinc and copper)

Electrochemical cell - general

General cell construction


Copper - Iron cell


In this cell the iron is the even more powerful reducing agent and will certainly preferentially shed electrons. These electrons force the copper redox equation to go in the direction of receiving electrons (reduction) - i.e. the copper Cu2+ ions pick up electrons and are deposited on the electrode as copper metal atoms

The iron | Fe2+ solution beaker is called a half-cell and the copper | copper ions solution is sassist to be the other half-cell.