The main reason that graphite electrodes are used in electrolysis is that graphite is an excellent conductor. The structure of graphite is such that it has a large number of electrons floating freely between the different layers of atoms (graphite bonds are formed of only three out of the four electron shells of the carbon atom, leaving the fourth electron to move freely). These electrons act as a powerful conductor, enabling the electrolysis process to progress smoothly. In addition, graphite is economical, stable at high temperatures and hard-wearing. For all these reasons, graphite electrodes are frequently used in electrolysis.

Why is Graphite Used as an Electrode in Electrolysis?

The atomic structure of graphite results in a large number of electrons not being bonded, allowing them to migrate between the layers of graphite. It is this large number of free electrons (electron delocalization) that give graphite its excellent conductive properties. As well as being a good conductor, graphite is also cheap, robust and easily accessible – all further reasons why it’s commonly used as an electrode.

Why Are Graphite Rods Used as Electrodes in Electrolysis?

Graphite rods are used as electrodes in electrolysis because graphite’s structure enables it to be an excellent conductor. The high number of delocalized electrons allows electricity to pass through graphite rapidly. Graphite is also straight-forward to shape into a rod shape, cost-effective and a hard-wearing material.

Are Graphite Electrodes Suitable for Electrolysis?

Yes! Graphite’s excellent conductive properties, coupled with its high melting point (enabling it to be used appropriately in a wide range of different electrolysis reactions), low price and toughness means it’s a good choice for an electrolysis electrode.

What Happens to a Solution During Electrolysis When Graphite Electrodes Are Used?

Graphite enables positively charged ions (metals and hydrogen) to obtain electrons from the negatively charged electrode. Conversely, negatively charged ions lose electrons (oxidation).