Concept

Electrochemical engineering

Summary
Electrochemical engineering is the branch of chemical engineering dealing with the technological applications of electrochemical phenomena, such as electrosynthesis of chemicals, electrowinning and refining of metals, flow batteries and fuel cells, surface modification by electrodeposition, electrochemical separations and corrosion. According to the IUPAC, the term electrochemical engineering is reserved for electricity-intensive processes for industrial or energy storage applications and should not be confused with applied electrochemistry, which comprises small batteries, amperometric sensors, microfluidic devices, microelectrodes, solid-state devices, voltammetry at disc electrodes, etc. More than 6% of the electricity is consumed by large-scale electrochemical operations in the US. Electrochemical engineering combines the study of heterogeneous charge transfer at electrode/electrolyte interphases with the development of practical materials and processes. Fundamental considerations include electrode materials and the kinetics of redox species. The development of the technology involves the study of the electrochemical reactors, their potential and current distribution, mass transport conditions, hydrodynamics, geometry and components as well as the quantification of its overall performance in terms of reaction yield, conversion efficiency, and energy efficiency. Industrial developments require further reactor and process design, fabrication methods, testing, and product development. Electrochemical engineering considers current distribution, fluid flow, mass transfer, and the kinetics of the electro reactions to design efficient electrochemical reactors. Most electrochemical operations are performed in filter-press reactors with parallel plate electrodes or, less often, in stirred tanks with rotating cylinder electrodes. Fuel cell and flow battery stacks are types of filter-press reactors. Most of them are continuous operations. This branch of engineering emerged gradually from chemical engineering as electrical power sources became available in the mid-19th century.
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