Extraction of Metals of high reactivity

Metals of high reactivity; such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, aluminium, etc. are extracted from their ores by electrolytic reduction. These metals cannot be reduced using carbon because carbon is less reactive than them.

Electrolytic Reduction: Electric current is passed through the molten state of metal ores. Metal; being positively charged; is deposited over the cathode.

Example: When electric current is passed through molten state or solution of sodium chloride, sodium metal is deposited over cathode.

Na+ + e ⇨ Na

2Cl − e ⇨ Cl2

2NaCl ⇨ 2Na + Cl2

Metals obtained from the process of electrolytic reduction are pure in form.

Refining or purification of metals:

Metals extracted from various methods contains some impurities, thus they are required to be refined. Most of the metals are refined using electrolytic refining.

Electrolytic Refining: In the process of electrolytic refining a lump of impure metal and a thin strip of pure metal are dipped in the salt solution of metal to be refined. When electric current is passed through the solution, pure metal is deposited over thin strip of pure metal; from lump of impure metal. In this, impure metal is used as anode and pure metal is used as cathode.

Electrolytic refining of copper:

A lump of impure copper metal and a thin strip of pure copper are dipped in the solution of copper sulphate. Impure lump of metal is connected with the positive pole and thin strip of pure metal is connected with the negative pole. When electric current is passed through the solution, pure metal from anode moves towards cathode and is deposited over it. Impurities; present in metal are settled near the bottom of anode in the solution. Settled impurities in the solution are called anode mud.

Cu − 2e ⇨ Cu+ +

Cu+ + + 2e ⇨ Cu


Most of the metals keep on reacting with the atmospheric air. This leads to formation of a layer over the metal. In the long run, the underlying layers of the metal keep on getting lost due to conversion into oxides or sulphides or carbonate, etc. As a result, the metal gets eaten up. This process is called corrosion.

Rusting of Iron: Rusting of iron is the most common form of corrosion. When iron articles; like gate, grill, fencing, etc. come in contact with moisture present in air, the upper layer of iron turns into iron oxide. Iron oxide is brown-red in color and is known as rust. This phenomenon is called rusting of iron.

If rusting is not prevented in time, the whole iron article would turn into iron oxide. This is also known as corrosion of iron. Rusting of iron gives huge loss every year.

Prevention of Rusting: For rusting, iron must come in contact with oxygen and water. Rusting is prevented by preventing the reaction between atmospheric moisture and the iron article. This can be done by painting, greasing, galvanization, electroplating, etc.

Copyright © excellup 2014