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Branch of chemistry concerned with the relation between electricity and chemical change. Many spontaneous chemical reactions liberate electrical energy, and some of these reactions are used in batteries and fuel cells to produce electric power. Conversely, electric current can bring about many reactions that do not occur spontaneously. In the process called electrolysis, electrical energy is converted directly into chemical energy, which is stored in the products of the reaction. This process is applied in refining metals, in electroplating, and in producing hydrogen and oxygen from water. Passage of electricity through a gas generally causes chemical changes, a subject that forms a separate branch of electrochemistry. See also oxidation-reduction.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on electrochemistry, visit Britannica.com.