Calomel Electrode

SOME OTHER REFERENCE ELECTRODES

Since a standard hydrogen electrode is difficult to prepare and maintain, it is usually replaced by other reference electrodes, which are known as secondary reference electrodes. These are convenient to handle and are prepared easily. Two important secondary reference electrodes are described here.

(i) Calomel electrode: It consists of mercury at the bot­tom over which a paste of mercury-mercurous chloride is placed. A solution of potassium chloride is then placed over the paste. A platinum wire sealed in a glass tube helps in making the electrical contact. The electrode is connected with the help of the side tube on the left through a salt bridge with the other electrode to make a complete cell.

The potential of the calomel electrode depends upon the concentration of the potassium chloride solution. If potassium

calomel electrode

 

chloride solution is saturated, the electrode is known as saturated calomel electrode (SCE) and if the potassium chloride solution is 1 N, the electrode is known as normal calomel electrode (NCE) while for 0.1 N potassium chloride solution, the electrode is referred to as decinormal calomel electrode (DNCE). The electrode reaction when the electrode acts as cathode is:

             1/2 Hg2Cl2 + e- <---> Hg + Cl-

The reduction potentials of the calomel electrodes on hydrogen scale at 298K are as follows:

               Saturated KC1   0.2415 V

               1.0NKC1            0.2800 V

               0.1NKC1            0.3338 V

The electrode potential of any other electrode on hydrogen scale can be measured when it is combined with calomel electrode. The emf of such a cell is measured. From the value of electrode potential of calomel electrode, the electrode poten­tial of the other electrode can be evaluated.

(ii) Silver-silver chloride electrode: This is another widely used reference electrode. It is reversible and stable and can be combined with cells containing chlorides without insetting liquid junctions.

Silver chloride is deposited electrolytically on a silver or platinum wire and it is then immersed in a solution containing chloride ions. Its standard electrode potential with respect to the standard hydrogen electrode is 0.2224 V at 298 K. the electrode is represented as:

               Ag|AgCl|Cl-

       and the electrode reaction is,

              AgCl+e- --> Ag + Cl-

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