Category Archives: 1.3 Metals and their uses

Difference between a voltaic and an electrolytic cell

This animation addresses the common confusion students have between a voltaic (galvanic) cell and an electrolytic cell. The simulation published by Kent Chemistry, demonstrates a voltaic cell (Zn|ZnSO4 and Cu|CuSO4 half-cells that are connected together by a porous bridge) and the electrolysis of copper (II) sulfate solution using copper for both electrodes. Remember: A voltaic cell  converts  chemical energy into electrical energy  

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Extracting iron

Iron ores are reduced by coke (carbon) in a blast furnace. The process is summarised in the diagram below. Hottest part of the furnace At the bottom of the furnace, adjacent to the hot air blast entry points, the temperature reaches around 1800ºC, and represents the hottest part of the furnace. Ascending vertically, the furnace temperature decreases and reaches around 300ºC

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Environmental impact of using metals and recycling

What are the social, economic and environmental impacts of exploiting metal ores, of using metals and of recycling metals? Metal ores are obtained by mining/quarrying and that this involved digging up and processing large amounts of rock. Most ores are mined have to be concentrated before the metal is extracted and purified. This means that metal or mineral extraction results

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Extracting copper

How is copper extracted from copper-rich ores? Copper can be extracted from copper-rich ores by heating the ores in a furnace (roasting and smelting). Roasting and smelting both produce poisonous sulfur dioxide (SO2). Thereafter, the impure copper formed can be purified by electrolysis. Electrolysis is summarised in the diagram below and covered in the adjacent RSC video.            

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Properties and uses of metals

The elements in the central block of the periodic table (shown in pink by the adjacent Periodic Table) are known as transition metals. Like other metals they are good conductors of heat and electricity and can be bent or hammered into shape. They are useful as structural materials, chemical catalysts, and for making things that must allow heat or electricity

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Definition of alloy A metal alloy is a mixture of metal elements. Uses of alloys Most metals in everyday use are alloys. Pure copper, gold, iron and aluminium are too soft for many uses and so are mixed with small amounts of similar metals to make them harder for everyday use. Steels are alloys since they are mixtures of iron

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