An electrolytic cell is the inverse of a galvanic cell. Electrolytic cells consume electrical energy from an outside source emf to make a non-spontaneous redox reaction occur. For example, a galvanic cell, can be made from the spontaneous reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to produce water and electricity, but an electrolytic cell can combine water and electricity to produce hydrogen and oxygen--a non-spontaneous reaction. Electrolysis has applications in the production of pure metals from their ores in and in electroplating.
The most common types of problems in electrolysis focus on electroplating and the electrolysis of water. In our discussion of the electrolysis of water, we will probe this specific example of water as typical of the electrolytic processes. In the electroplating section, we will cover the process of how electroplating works and explore some of the common types of problems in electroplating.