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Redox Reactions - AP Chemistry

Redox Reactions - AP Chemistry

Introduction: Oxidation and reduction are important concepts not only in chemistry, but also in our everyday lives. If you've ever seen a building rust over time or witnessed the burning of any kind of material, you have seen oxidation in action. In the case of burning something, oxidation occurs very quickly as a result of reacting with oxygen, and energy is released as a result. In the case of a building rusting, a metal will react with oxygen to form an oxide, leading to the metal becoming a metal ion through the process of oxidation.

What exactly is oxidation, and what exactly is reduction? Oxidation refers to a process in which electrons are lost to another species, leading to an increase in what is known as the oxidation state, or a number representing the number of electrons transferred by an atom of an element in a compound. Reduction, on the other hand, refers to a process in which electrons are gained by a species, leading to a decrease in the oxidation state. Whatever undergoes oxidation is called the reducing agent, since it reduces the oxidation state of the other species, and whatever undergoes reduction is called the oxidizing agent, since it increases the oxidation state of the other species.

An important consideration in oxidation-reduction reactions is the fact that the number of electrons lost must be equal to the number of electrons gained. In order to ensure that this happens, separate parts of the oxidation-reduction reaction can be balanced in what is known as half-reactions. These reactions refer to reactions that refer separately to the change in the oxidation states of individual substances involved in the redox reaction. Therefore, there is an oxidation half-reaction and reduction half-reaction. Both of these half-reactions must show electrons on either side of the equation to represent the idea that electrons are being transferred.

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