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Any chemical reaction in which the oxidation number of a participating chemical species changes. Addition of hydrogen or electrons or removal of oxygen is reduction, and removal of hydrogen or electrons or addition of oxygen is oxidation. The processes always occur simultaneously: one substance is oxidized by the other, which it reduces. The conditions of the substances before and after are called oxidation states, to which numbers are given and with which calculations can be made. (Valence is a similar but not identical concept.) The chemical equation that describes the electron transfer can be written as two separate half reactions that can in theory be carried out in separate compartments of an electrolytic cell (seeelectrolysis), with electrons flowing through a wire connecting the two. Strong oxidizing agents include fluorine, ozone, and oxygen itself; strong reducing agents include alkali metals such as sodium and lithium.
Variants of OXIDATION-REDUCTION
oxidation-reduction or redox
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on oxidation-reduction, visit Britannica.com.
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