Galvanic Cell and Electrolytic Cell Difference with Example

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Galvanic cells and electrolytic cells are two types of electrochemical cells that differ in various aspects such as energy conversion, redox reaction, polarity, electron flow, material, ions discharge, electrons supply, chemical reaction, and applications.

Galvanic cells are commonly used in batteries to generate electricity, while electrolytic cells are used to drive non-spontaneous chemical reactions. Understanding the differences between Galvanic Cell and Electrolytic Cell is crucial to comprehend how electrochemical systems work and their applications in various fields.

What is Galvanic Cell?

• A galvanic cell generates electricity through a spontaneous oxidation-reduction chemical reaction. It converts Chemical energy into electrical energy.

• A galvanic cell, named after the scientist Luigi Galvani, is an electrochemical cell in which an electric current is generated from spontaneous Oxidation-Reduction reactions.

Galvanic cell diagram

Galvanic Cell Diagram
Galvanic Cell Diagram

• Typically, a Galvanic cell consists of two half-cells. Both half cells are connected to each other with a salt bridge and the electrode is connected through a wire. Each half-cell contains metal salt that matches the electrode of the half cells.

Half Galvanic Cell diagram
Half Galvanic Cell diagram

What is an Electrolytic cell?

• In an electrolytic cell a chemical compound is disintegrated by passing electricity through it. It required some external source of electricity to continue the  Non-spontaneous redox reactions. An electrolytic cell converts electrical energy into chemical energy.

• The process performed by an electrolytic cell is known as electrolysis. Here electro means electricity and “lysis” means to separate or break, So, “electrolysis” means “break down via electricity”.

• In an electrolysis cell the cathode (+) is negatively charged (-ve) and the anode (-) is positively charged (+ve).

• The cathode undergoes an oxidation reaction while the anode undergoes a reduction reaction.

Diagram of Electrolytic cell

Electrolytic Cell Diagram
Diagram of Electrolytic cell

Galvanic cell vs Electrolytic cell

Properties Galvanic Cells Electrolytic Cells
Conversion It converts the Chemical energy to electrical energy. It converts Electrical energy to Chemical energy.
Reaction type The energy released by Spontaneous redox reactions An external source of Electrical energy required to continue the  Non-spontaneous redox reactions
Anode Type The anode is the negative electrode The anode is the positive electrode
Cathode type The cathode is the positive electrode The cathode is the negative electrode
Electrons Supply                 Electrons are supplied to the cell from an external source Electrons are drawn from the cell
Location of Reduction process The reduction process  takes place at the cathode The reduction process takes place at the cathode
Location  of Oxidation Process The process of oxidation takes place at the anode the oxidation process occurs at the anode
Structure Every Galvanic cell comprises two half cells (Two different container), both are connected with a salt bridge.   Each half cells formed by a single electrode Both the electrodes of an Electrolytic cells are kept in the same container in a molten or an electrolyte solution. Here, No salt bridge is required.  
Application Principle of Galvanic cell is used to manufacture Batteries.   Example: Voltaic cell (first electrical battery) Principle of Electrolytic cell widely used in  purifying metals like copper, Aluminium, Zinc, Lead, Cadmium and Sodium etc.  And electroplating.

Galvanic Cell and Electrolytic Cell Difference in a Nutshell

Properties Galvanic Cells Electrolytic Cells
Conversion of energy Chemical energy Electrical energy Electrical energy Chemical energy
Reaction type Spontaneous redox reactions Non-spontaneous redox reactions
Cathode and Anode Type Cathode +ve electrode Anode  -ve electrode Cathode -ve electrode Anode +ve electrode
Location of Reduction and Oxidation process Reduction  Cathode Oxidation Anode Reduction    Cathode Oxidation Anode
Structure of cell Two half cells are connected with a salt bridge. Single-cell contains both the electrode
Used in Battery manufacturing industries Purifying metals and electroplating
Galvanic Cell and Electrolytic Cell Difference
Galvanic Cell and Electrolytic Cell Difference

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