Oxidation/Reduction

Free Articles

Flaking Away
February 2006 (pp 17-19)

Author:  Christen Brownlee
Chemistry Connections:
  Metals/ Nonmetals, Reactions, Solutions, Sustainability
Description:
  Talks about the demise of older cars due to rusting, focusing on the role of electrons in this chemical reaction, oxidation-reduction. Discusses how different regions of the same metal piece can act as anodes and cathodes simultaneously, and how water as a solvent for ions on the surface is the connector between these two areas of positive and negative charge that allows redox to occur.  Differences in rusting rates in different geographical regions of the country are attributed to the presence of salt, either from ocean spray in coastal areas, or from salting of roads in colder regions of the country. Also discussed: reversing the rusting process (not practical), other objects that rust, the cost of rust, and paints to prevent corrosion. Chemical equations for rusting are provided.

Fireworks!
October 2010 (pp 8-10)

Author:  Kathy De Antonis
Chemistry Connections:
  Oxidation/Reduction, Reactions
Description:
  Discusses the components of fireworks, from the mortar that lifts them into the sky, to the aerial shells that actually ignite aloft. Description includes the contents of the aerial shells—gunpowder and “stars”—and the mechanism of their ignition. Explains the chemistry of explosions, pressure build-up inside the shell’s tube caused by temperature increase from combustion; i.e., Charles’ Law. Discusses at length colors of fireworks and the elements responsible for those colors. Also discusses luminescence at the atomic level; i.e., electrons, at ground state vs. excited state. Includes significant portion of article to fireworks safety. Concludes with interview with pyrotechnic chemist.

Drivers, Start Your (Electric) Engines!
February 2013 (pp 14-16)

Author:  Michael Tinnesand
Chemistry Connections:
  Oxidation/Reduction, Reactions
Description:
  Touts the advantages of an all-electric car over a gasoline-powered car. Presents brief first-hand account of an electric car owner. Briefly discusses history of electric cars, 1890s to present; earliest cars powered by lead-acid batteries. Discusses in detail chemistry of how lead-acid batteries work (redox reactions), including discharge and charge cycles. Provides detailed information about how lithium-ion batteries work (also includes discharge and charge cycles) in the Nissan Leaf electric car. Compares two battery types. Discusses present drawbacks to widespread acceptance of electric cars.

Article available on the ChemMatters DVD

Space Food
December 2009 (pp 11-13)

Author:  Diana Lutz
Chemistry Connections:
  Solids/Liquids/Gases, Reactions
Description:
  Various techniques for preserving food for astronauts detailed including freeze-drying, thermostabilizing and irradiating. Goal to eliminate bacteria and water. Water for rehydration from fuel cell chemical reaction.