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Subject - electrochemistry
Electrolysis is an electrochemical process using an electric current to drive a reaction that otherwise would not proceed in the desired direction. If the reaction moves in the other, spontaneous direction, electrical energy is released because the reaction now proceeds voluntarily (galvanolysis).
The basic principle of electrolysis is forcing a reaction into a path which is opposite to its spontaneous direction. This is achieved by applying an electrical current to a conductive liquid (electrolyte). Already existing or newly formed ions migrate to oppositely charged electrodes, cations to the cathode (negatively charged) and anions to the anode (positively charged). Formation of the ions and their discharge at the electrodes leads to a separation of material. For example, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen and metals can be precipitated from their salt solutions.