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On a practice problem for balancing redox reactions, I found that one compound is gaining three electrons, but there were only two atoms of the same element within that compound that were able to accept electrons. I had made a mistake and figured out what I did wrong using the solutions manual, but could this ever actually happen in a problem balanced correctly? If not, why? If so, how should it be dealt with? Would the electron be shared between the two atoms, or would one just get it by random chance?
I'm not really sure of the reason why, but I don't think it is possible to have too many/too little electrons for a reaction. If you balance it correctly, all of the electrons should go somewhere, and they should cancel when you combine the half reactions as well. I always know that I did some part of the problem incorrectly if the elctrons don't add up/cancel correctly.
I think that this has to do with conservation of mass. Mass can neither be created nor destroyed, which is why the number of electrons given off must be gained by another atom. For the purposes of this class, the number of electrons transferred on both sides should be equal. Hope this helps!
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