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Electroplating for High School Students

Q. Just a simple question on electroplating from a high school chem TA. I know that a simple electrolytic cell can be set up using a battery and a strip of copper and iron placed in solution. I wonder if I would be able to do this on a larger scale using, say, a car battery and plating a 12x16 sheet of iron.? Perhaps you could give me some more details so I could show the kids. It is hard for them to see it on a small scale. Thanks

Kevin R. Mock
- Lynchburg Virginia USA

A. Actually, you don't know exactly that, Mr. Mock. Because what will happen is the copper will plate onto the steel sheet without any application of electricity, so a really perceptive kid might not be impressed :-)

But, yes, you can scale up the experiment described in topic 64.

What might be a better demonstration, because it actually requires the electricity, would be plating zinc onto copper. You can get the zinc as 'zinc anodes' from a boating supplies store, and the copper sheet perhaps from a hardware store or plumbing supply store. There is no reason the experiment can't be scaled up from the description on our FAQ, Electroplating -- How It Works.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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