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oxidation is the process in which an atom loses an electron (LEO = Lose Electron Oxidation). an example of a redox reaction is Cu2+ + Zn -> Cu + Zn2+. A plus following an atom indicates that the respective atom has less negative charge (electrons) than it would in its standard form on the periodic table. (Essentially, if an atom goes from having no + to having a +, it can be assumed that an electron(s) have been lost). This process is an oxidation, so Zinc in the previous equation goes from no charge to a 2+ charge - that means two electrons have been lost, which is an oxidative process.
Oxidation is the loss of electrons. In order to determine which species has lost an electron, you need to know the oxidation states of the elements you are dealing with. For example, oxygen has an oxidation state of -2 in H2O whereas hydrogen has an oxidation state of -1. By looking at the oxidation states of a species, we can determine whether they have gained or lost an electron. The oxidation state of a free atom is zero as well as the oxidation state of a compound. So the elements of a compound must have oxidation states that add up to zero. This also allows us to calculate the oxidation state of an element in a compound by looking at the oxidation states of other elements in the compound. For example, the formation of water is a redox reaction where hydrogen is oxidized and oxygen is reduced. 2H2 + O2 --> 2H2O where the oxidation states of H2 and O2 are zero since they are free elements and the oxidation state of water is also zero, however, the oxygen in water has an oxidation state of -2 and hydrogen has an oxidation state of +1. There are two hydrogens which makes a +2 charge which is neutralized by the -2 charge of the oxygen.
If you figure out the oxidation numbers of each molecule, the group where the oxidation number increases is the portion of the redox reaction that is oxidized since it is gaining a more positive charge, meaning it is donating its electrons.
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