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An electrolyte is a medium containing ions that is
electrically conducting Electrical resistivity (also called specific electrical resistance or volume resistivity) is a fundamental property of a material that quantifies how strongly it resists electric current. Its inverse, called electrical conductivity, quantifies ...
through the movement of ions, but not conducting
electrons The electron is a subatomic particle In physical sciences, subatomic particles are smaller than atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has ma ...
. This includes most soluble
salts In chemistry, a salt is a chemical compound consisting of an ionic assembly of cations and anions. Salts are composed of related numbers of cations (positively electric charge, charged ions) and anions (negatively charged ions) so that the prod ...
,
acid An acid is a molecule or ion capable of donating a proton (hydrogen ion H+) (a Brønsted–Lowry acid–base theory, Brønsted–Lowry acid), or, alternatively, capable of forming a covalent bond with an electron pair (a Lewis acid). The fir ...
s, and bases dissolved in a
polar solvent A solvent (from the Latin language, Latin ''wikt:solvo#Latin, solvō'', "loosen, untie, solve") is a substance that dissolves a solute, resulting in a solution. A solvent is usually a liquid but can also be a solid, a gas, or a supercritical flui ...
, such as water. Upon dissolving, the substance separates into
cation An ion () is an atom or molecule with a net electric charge, electrical charge. The charge of an electron is considered negative by convention and this charge is equal and opposite to charge of a proton, which is considered positive by convent ...
s and
anion An ion () is a particle, atom or molecule with a net electric charge, electrical charge. The charge of the electron is considered negative by convention. The negative charge of an ion is equal and opposite to charged proton(s) considered po ...
s, which disperse uniformly through the solvent. Solid-state electrolytes also exist. In medicine, the term electrolyte refers to the substance that is dissolved. Electrically, such a solution is neutral. If an
electric potential The electric potential (also called the ''electric field potential'', potential drop, the electrostatic potential) is the amount of work energy needed to move a unit of electric charge Electric charge is the physical property of matter that c ...
is applied to such a solution, the cations of the solution are drawn to the
electrode An electrode is an electrical conductor used to make contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit (e.g. a semiconductor A semiconductor material has an Electrical resistivity and conductivity, electrical conductivity value falling between tha ...
that has an abundance of
electron The electron is a subatomic particle In physical sciences, subatomic particles are smaller than atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has ma ...
s, while the anions are drawn to the electrode that has a deficit of electrons. The movement of anions and cations in opposite directions within the solution amounts to a current. Some gases, such as
hydrogen chloride The Chemical compound, compound hydrogen chloride has the chemical formula and as such is a hydrogen halide. At room temperature, it is a colourless gas, which forms white fumes of hydrochloric acid upon contact with atmospheric water vapor. Hyd ...

hydrogen chloride
(HCl), under conditions of high temperature or low pressure can also function as electrolytes. Electrolyte solutions can also result from the dissolution of some biological (e.g.,
DNA The structure of part of a DNA double helix Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings ...
,
polypeptides Peptides (from Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus, Albania, o ...
) and
synthetic polymerSynthetic polymers are human-made polymers, often derived from petroleum oil. From the utility point of view they can be classified into three main categories: thermoplastics, elastomers and synthetic fibers. They are commonly found in a variety of p ...
s (e.g.,
polystyrene sulfonate Polystyrene sulfonates are a group of medications used to treat high blood potassium. Effects generally take hours to days. They are also used to remove potassium Potassium is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.s ...

polystyrene sulfonate
), termed "
polyelectrolyte Polyelectrolytes are polymers A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consisting of very large molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene m ...
s", which contain charged
functional group In organic chemistry, a functional group is a substituent or moiety (chemistry), moiety in a molecule that causes the molecule's characteristic chemical reactions. The same functional group will undergo the same or similar chemical reactions reg ...
s. A substance that dissociates into ions in solution acquires the capacity to conduct electricity.
Sodium Sodium is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same num ...

Sodium
,
potassium Potassium is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

potassium
,
chloride The chloride ion is the anion An ion () is a particle, atom or molecule with a net electric charge, electrical charge. The charge of the electron is considered negative by convention. The negative charge of an ion is equal and opposite ...

chloride
,
calcium Calcium is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Ca and atomic number 20. As an alkaline earth metal, calcium is a reactive metal that forms a dark oxide-nitride layer when exposed to air. Its physical and chemical properties a ...

calcium
,
magnesium Magnesium is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

magnesium
, and
phosphate In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they un ...

phosphate
are examples of electrolytes. In medicine, electrolyte replacement is needed when a person has prolonged
vomiting Vomiting (also known as puking, throwing up, barfing, emesis, among other names) is the involuntary, forceful expulsion of the contents of one's stomach through the mouth and sometimes the nose. Vomiting can be caused by many conditions ...

vomiting
or
diarrhea Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose, liquid, or watery bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration In physiology, dehydration is a lack of total body ...
, and as a response to strenuous athletic activity. Commercial electrolyte solutions are available, particularly for sick children (such as oral rehydration solution,
Suero Oral In the United States, Suero Oral® is a brand name of an electrolyte solution used to re-hydrate after work in heat-intensive environments, athletic activity, to treat pediatric vomiting and diarrhea, and as a hangover remedy. The product is similar ...
, or
Pedialyte Pedialyte is an oral electrolyte An electrolyte is a substance that produces an electrically conducting solution when dissolved in a polar solvent, such as water. The dissolved electrolyte separates into cations and anions, which disperse uniform ...
) and athletes (
sports drink Sports drinks, also known as electrolyte drinks, are functional beverages whose stated purpose is to help athletes replace water, electrolytes, and energy before, during and especially after training or competition, though their effects on perfo ...
s). Electrolyte monitoring is important in the treatment of
anorexia Anorexia nervosa, often referred to simply as anorexia, is an eating disorder, characterized by underweight, low weight, Calorie restriction, food restriction, fear of gaining weight and a strong desire to be thin. Many people with anorexia see ...
and
bulimia Bulimia nervosa, also known as simply bulimia, is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating followed by purging. Binge eating refers to eating a large amount of food in a short amount of time. Purging refers to the attempts to get rid of ...
. In science, electrolytes are one of the main components of electrochemical cells.


Etymology

The word ''electrolyte'' derives from
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Dark Ages () ...
ήλεκτρο- (''ēlectro''-), prefix related to electricity, and λυτός (''lytos''), meaning "able to be untied or loosened".


History

In his 1884 dissertation,
Svante Arrhenius Svante August Arrhenius (; 19 February 1859 – 2 October 1927) was a Swedish scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branches of science, area of interest. In classic ...

Svante Arrhenius
put forth his explanation of solid crystalline salts disassociating into paired charged particles when dissolved, for which he won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Arrhenius's explanation was that in forming a solution, the salt dissociates into charged particles, to which
Michael Faraday Michael Faraday (; 22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was an English scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branches of science, area of interest. In clas ...

Michael Faraday
(1791-1867) had given the name "
ion An ion () is a particle In the Outline of physical science, physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small wikt:local, localized physical body, object to which can be ascribed several physical property, physical or ...
s" many years earlier. Faraday's belief had been that ions were produced in the process of
electrolysis In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they und ...

electrolysis
. Arrhenius proposed that, even in the absence of an electric current, solutions of salts contained ions. He thus proposed that chemical reactions in solution were reactions between ions. Shortly after Arrhenius's hypothesis of ions,
Franz Hofmeister Franz Hofmeister (30 August 1850, Prague – 26 July 1922, Würzburg Würzburg (; Main-Franconian: ; bar, Wiazbuag or ) is a List of cities and towns in Germany, city in the traditional region of Franconia in the north of the Germany, German s ...
and Siegmund Lewith found that different ion types displayed different effects on such things as the solubility of proteins. A consistent ordering of these different ions on the magnitude of their effect arises consistently in many other systems as well. This has since become known as the
Hofmeister series The Hofmeister series or lyotropic series is a classification of ions in order of their ability to salt out or salt in proteins. The effects of these changes were first worked out by Franz Hofmeister, who studied the effects of cations and anion ...
. While the origins of these effects are not abundantly clear and have been debated throughout the past century, it has been suggested that the charge density of these ions is important and might actually have explanations originating from the work of
Charles-Augustin de Coulomb Charles-Augustin de Coulomb (; ; 14 June 1736 – 23 August 1806) was a French officer, engineer, and physicist. He is best known as the eponymous discoverer of what is now called Coulomb's law, the description of the electrostatics, electrostatic ...
over 200 years ago.


Formation

Electrolyte solutions are normally formed when salt is placed into a
solvent A solvent (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
such as water and the individual components dissociate due to the
thermodynamic Thermodynamics is a branch of physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related ent ...
interactions between solvent and solute molecules, in a process called "
solvation Solvation (or dissolution) describes the interaction of solvent A solvent (from the Latin language, Latin ''wikt:solvo#Latin, solvō'', "loosen, untie, solve") is a substance that dissolves a solute, resulting in a solution. A solvent is usual ...

solvation
". For example, when table salt (
sodium chloride Sodium chloride , commonly known as salt (although sea salt also contains other chemical salt (chemistry), salts), is an ionic compound with the chemical formula NaCl, representing a 1:1 ratio of sodium and chloride ions. With Molar mass, molar ...
), NaCl, is placed in water, the salt (a solid) dissolves into its component ions, according to the dissociation reaction :NaCl(s) → Na+(aq) + Cl(aq) It is also possible for substances to react with water, producing ions. For example,
carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (chemical formula ) is a colorless gas with a density about 53% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide molecules consist of a carbon atom covalent bond, covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally in At ...

carbon dioxide
gas dissolves in water to produce a solution that contains
hydronium In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they under ...

hydronium
,
carbonate In chemistry, a carbonate is a salt Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of Salt (chemistry), salts; salt in its natural form as a crystallinity, crystalline min ...

carbonate
, and ions.
Molten salt Molten FLiBe (2LiF-BeF2) Molten salt is salt (chemistry), salt which is solid at standard temperature and pressure but enters the liquid phase due to elevated temperature. A salt that is normally liquid even at standard temperature and pressure is ...
s can also be electrolytes as, for example, when sodium chloride is molten, the liquid conducts electricity. In particular, ionic liquids, which are molten salts with melting points below 100 °C, are a type of highly conductive non-aqueous electrolytes and thus have found more and more applications in fuel cells and batteries. An electrolyte in a solution may be described as "concentrated" if it has a high concentration of ions, or "diluted" if it has a low concentration. If a high proportion of the solute dissociates to form free ions, the electrolyte is strong; if most of the solute does not dissociate, the electrolyte is weak. The properties of electrolytes may be exploited using electrolysis to extract constituent elements and compounds contained within the solution. Alkaline earth metals form hydroxides that are strong electrolytes with limited solubility in water, due to the strong attraction between their constituent ions. This limits their application to situations where high solubility is required. In 2021 researchers have found that electrolyte can "substantially facilitate electrochemical corrosion studies in less conductive media".


Physiological importance

In
physiology Physiology (; ) is the scientific study of functions and mechanisms in a living system. As a sub-discipline of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, B ...
, the primary ions of electrolytes are
sodium Sodium is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same num ...

sodium
(Na+),
potassium Potassium is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

potassium
(K+),
calcium Calcium is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Ca and atomic number 20. As an alkaline earth metal, calcium is a reactive metal that forms a dark oxide-nitride layer when exposed to air. Its physical and chemical properties a ...

calcium
(Ca2+),
magnesium Magnesium is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

magnesium
(Mg2+),
chloride The chloride ion is the anion An ion () is a particle, atom or molecule with a net electric charge, electrical charge. The charge of the electron is considered negative by convention. The negative charge of an ion is equal and opposite ...

chloride
(Cl), hydrogen phosphate (HPO42−), and hydrogen carbonate (HCO3). The electric charge symbols of plus (+) and minus (−) indicate that the substance is ionic in nature and has an imbalanced distribution of electrons, the result of chemical dissociation. Sodium is the main electrolyte found in extracellular fluid and potassium is the main intracellular electrolyte; both are involved in fluid balance and
blood pressure Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure Pressure (symbol: ''p'' or ''P'') is the force In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , ...

blood pressure
control. All known multicellular lifeforms require a subtle and complex electrolyte balance between the
intracellular This glossary of biology terms is a list of definitions of fundamental terms and concepts used in biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemic ...
and
extracellular This glossary of biology terms is a list of definitions of fundamental terms and concepts used in biology, the study of life and of living organisms. It is intended as introductory material for novices; for more specific and technical definitions f ...
environments. In particular, the maintenance of precise
osmotic Osmosis () is the spontaneous net movement of solvent molecules through a selectively permeable membrane into a region of higher Solution, solute concentration, in the direction that tends to equalize the solute concentrations on the two sides. ...
gradient In vector calculus, the gradient of a scalar-valued function, scalar-valued differentiable function of Function of several variables, several variables is the vector field (or vector-valued function) \nabla f whose value at a point p is the Vec ...
s of electrolytes is important. Such gradients affect and regulate the hydration of the body as well as blood pH, and are critical for
nerve A nerve is an enclosed, cable-like bundle of fibers (called axon An axon (from Greek ἄξων ''áxōn'', axis), or nerve fiber (or nerve fibre: see American and British English spelling differences#-re, -er, spelling differences), is a long, ...

nerve
and
muscle Skeletal muscles (commonly referred to as muscles) are organs An organ is a group of tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exist in organ systems. A given organ's tissues can be broadly cate ...

muscle
function. Various mechanisms exist in living species that keep the concentrations of different electrolytes under tight control. Both muscle tissue and
neuron A neuron or nerve cell is an membrane potential#Cell excitability, electrically excitable cell (biology), cell that communicates with other cells via specialized connections called synapses. It is the main component of nervous tissue in all Anima ...

neuron
s are considered electric tissues of the body. Muscles and neurons are activated by electrolyte activity between the
extracellular fluid In cell biology Cell biology (also cellular biology or cytology) is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, ...
or
interstitial fluid In cell biology Cell biology (also cellular biology or cytology) is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, ...
, and
intracellular fluid This glossary of biology terms is a list of definitions of fundamental terms and concepts used in biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemic ...
. Electrolytes may enter or leave the cell membrane through specialized protein structures embedded in the
plasma membrane cell membrane vs. Prokaryotes A prokaryote () is a single-celled organism A unicellular organism, also known as a single-celled organism, is an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organ ...
called "
ion channels s (typically four per channel), 2 - outer vestibule, 3 - selectivity filter, 4 - diameter of selectivity filter, 5 - phosphorylation site, 6 - cell membrane. Ion channels are pore-forming membrane protein Membrane proteins are common proteins ...

ion channels
". For example,
muscle contraction Muscle contraction is the activation of tension Tension may refer to: Science * Psychological stress * Tension (physics), a force related to the stretching of an object (the opposite of compression) * Tension (geology), a stress which stretches r ...

muscle contraction
is dependent upon the presence of calcium (Ca2+), sodium (Na+), and potassium (K+). Without sufficient levels of these key electrolytes, muscle weakness or severe muscle contractions may occur. Electrolyte balance is maintained by oral, or in emergencies, intravenous (IV) intake of electrolyte-containing substances, and is regulated by
hormone A hormone (from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 m ...

hormone
s, in general with the
kidney The kidneys are two reddish-brown bean-shaped organs An organ is a group of tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exist in organ systems. A given organ's tissues can be broadly categorized ...

kidney
s flushing out excess levels. In humans, electrolyte
homeostasis In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms ...
is regulated by hormones such as
antidiuretic hormone Vasopressin, also called antidiuretic hormone (ADH), arginine vasopressin (AVP) or argipressin, is a hormone A hormone (from the Greek participle , "setting in motion") is any member of a class of signaling molecules in multicellular org ...
s,
aldosterone Aldosterone is the main mineralocorticoid steroid hormone produced by the zona glomerulosa of the adrenal cortex in the adrenal gland. It is essential for sodium conservation in the kidney, salivary glands, sweat glands, and colon. It plays a cen ...

aldosterone
and
parathyroid hormone Parathyroid hormone (PTH), also called parathormone or parathyrin, is a peptide hormone secreted by the parathyroid glands that regulates the serum calcium concentration through its effects on bone, kidney, and intestine. PTH influences bone rem ...
s. Serious
electrolyte disturbance Electrolyte imbalance, or water-electrolyte imbalance, is an abnormality in the concentration of electrolytes An electrolyte is a substance that produces an electrically conducting solution when dissolved in a polar solvent, such as water. The di ...
s, such as
dehydration In physiology, dehydration is a lack of total body water In physiology Physiology (; ) is the scientific study of functions and mechanisms in a living system. As a sub-discipline of biology Biology is the natural science that studies ...

dehydration
and overhydration, may lead to cardiac and neurological complications and, unless they are rapidly resolved, will result in a
medical emergency A medical emergency is an Acute (medicine), acute injury or illness that poses an immediate risk to a person's life or long-term health, sometimes referred to as a situation risking "life or limb". These emergencies may require assistance from ...

medical emergency
.


Measurement

Measurement of electrolytes is a commonly performed diagnostic procedure, performed via
blood test A blood test is a laboratory A laboratory (; ; colloquially lab) is a facility that provides controlled conditions in which science, scientific or technological research, experiments, and measurement may be performed. Laboratory services a ...

blood test
ing with ion-selective electrodes or
urinalysis Clinical urine tests are examinations of the physical properties, physical and chemical properties of urine and its microscopic appearance to aid in medical diagnosis. The term urinalysis—a blend of the words ''urine'' and ''analysis''—generall ...
by
medical technologist A medical laboratory scientist (MLS) or clinical laboratory scientist (CLS) or medical technologist (MT) performs diagnostic testing of blood and body fluids in clinical laboratories. The scope of a medical laboratory scientist's work begins with ...
s. The interpretation of these values is somewhat meaningless without analysis of the clinical history and is often impossible without parallel measurements of
renal function Assessment of kidney function occurs in different ways, using the presence of symptoms and signs, as well as measurements using urine tests, blood tests, and medical imaging. Functions of a healthy kidney include maintaining a person's fluid ...
. The electrolytes measured most often are sodium and potassium. Chloride levels are rarely measured except for
arterial blood gas An arterial blood gas (ABG) test measures the amounts of arterial gases, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. An ABG test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the radial artery with a syringe and a thin hypodermic needle, needle, but ...
interpretations since they are inherently linked to sodium levels. One important test conducted on urine is the
specific gravity Relative density, or specific gravity, is the ratio In mathematics, a ratio indicates how many times one number contains another. For example, if there are eight oranges and six lemons in a bowl of fruit, then the ratio of oranges to lemons ...
test to determine the occurrence of an
electrolyte imbalance Electrolyte imbalance, or water-electrolyte imbalance, is an abnormality in the concentration of electrolytes An electrolyte is a substance that produces an electrically conducting solution when dissolved in a polar solvent, such as water. The di ...
.


Rehydration

In
oral rehydration therapy Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) is a type of fluid replacement used to prevent and treat dehydration, especially due to diarrhea. It involves drinking water with modest amounts of sugar and salts, specifically sodium and potassium. Oral rehydratio ...
, electrolyte drinks containing sodium and potassium salts replenish the body's water and electrolyte concentrations after dehydration caused by
exercise Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness Physical fitness is a state of health Health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being Well-being, also known as ''wellness'', ''prudential value ...

exercise
, excessive alcohol consumption,
diaphoresis Perspiration, also known as sweating, is the production of fluids secreted by the sweat glands in the skin Skin is the layer of usually soft, flexible outer tissue covering the body of a vertebrate animal, with three main functions: protecti ...
(heavy sweating), diarrhea, vomiting, intoxication or starvation. Athletes exercising in extreme conditions (for three or more hours continuously, e.g. a
marathon The marathon is a long-distance race with an official distance of , usually run as a road race. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to At ...

marathon
or
triathlon A triathlon is an endurance multisport race consisting of swimming, cycling, and running over various distances. Triathletes compete for fastest overall completion time, racing each segment sequentially with the time transitioning between th ...

triathlon
) who do not consume electrolytes risk
dehydration In physiology, dehydration is a lack of total body water In physiology Physiology (; ) is the scientific study of functions and mechanisms in a living system. As a sub-discipline of biology Biology is the natural science that studies ...

dehydration
(or
hyponatremia Hyponatremia is a low sodium Sodium is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of a ...
). A home-made electrolyte drink can be made by using water, sugar and salt in precise proportions. It is important to include
glucose Glucose is a simple sugar Sugar is the generic name for Sweetness, sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. Table sugar, granulated sugar, or regular sugar, refers to sucrose, a disaccharide composed of glucose and ...

glucose
(sugar) to utilise the co-transport mechanism of sodium and glucose. Commercial preparations are also available for both human and veterinary use. Electrolytes are commonly found in
fruit juice Juice is a drink A drink (or beverage) is a liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flows) under an applied shear stress, or external ...
s, sports drinks, milk, nuts, and many fruits and vegetables (whole or in juice form) (e.g., potatoes,
avocado The avocado (''Persea americana''), a tree likely originating from southcentral Mexico, is Biological classification, classified as a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae. The fruit of the plant, also called an avocado (or avocado pea ...

avocado
s).


Electrochemistry

When
electrode An electrode is an electrical conductor used to make contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit (e.g. a semiconductor A semiconductor material has an Electrical resistivity and conductivity, electrical conductivity value falling between tha ...
s are placed in an electrolyte and a
voltage Voltage, electric potential difference, electric pressure or electric tension is the difference in electric potential The electric potential (also called the ''electric field potential'', potential drop, the electrostatic potential) is the ...

voltage
is applied, the electrolyte will conduct electricity. Lone
electron The electron is a subatomic particle In physical sciences, subatomic particles are smaller than atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has ma ...
s normally cannot pass through the electrolyte; instead, a chemical reaction occurs at the
cathode A cathode is the electrode from which a conventional current leaves a polarized electrical device. This definition can be recalled by using the mnemonic ''CCD'' for ''Cathode Current Departs''. A conventional current describes the direction in which ...
, providing electrons to the electrolyte. Another reaction occurs at the
anode An anode is an electrode An electrode is an electrical conductor used to make contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit (e.g. a semiconductor A semiconductor material has an Electrical resistivity and conductivity, electrical conductivit ...

anode
, consuming electrons from the electrolyte. As a result, a negative charge cloud develops in the electrolyte around the cathode, and a positive charge develops around the anode. The ions in the electrolyte neutralize these charges, enabling the electrons to keep flowing and the reactions to continue. For example, in a solution of ordinary table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in water, the cathode reaction will be :2 H2O + 2e → 2 OH + H2 and
hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same ...

hydrogen
gas will bubble up; the anode reaction is :2 NaCl → 2 Na+ + Cl2 + 2e and
chlorine Chlorine is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Cl and atomic number 17. The second-lightest of the halogens, it appears between fluorine and bromine in the periodic table and its properties are mostly intermediate betwe ...

chlorine
gas will be liberated into solution where it reacts with the sodium and hydroxyl ions to produce
sodium hypochlorite Sodium hypochlorite (commonly known in a dilute solution as bleach) is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more ...

sodium hypochlorite
- household
bleach Bleach is the generic name for any chemical product that is used industrially and domestically to remove color from a fabric or fiber or to clean or to remove stains in a process called bleaching. It often refers, specifically, to a dilute so ...

bleach
. The positively charged sodium ions Na+ will react toward the cathode, neutralizing the negative charge of OH there, and the negatively charged hydroxide ions OH will react toward the anode, neutralizing the positive charge of Na+ there. Without the ions from the electrolyte, the charges around the electrode would slow down continued electron flow;
diffusion File:DiffusionMicroMacro.gif, 250px, Diffusion from a microscopic and macroscopic point of view. Initially, there are solute molecules on the left side of a barrier (purple line) and none on the right. The barrier is removed, and the solute diff ...

diffusion
of H+ and OH through water to the other electrode takes longer than movement of the much more prevalent salt ions. Electrolytes dissociate in water because water molecules are dipoles and the dipoles orient in an energetically favorable manner to
solvate Solvation (or dissolution) describes the interaction of solvent with Solution, dissolved molecules. Both ionized and uncharged Molecule, molecules interact strongly with solvent, and the strength and nature of this interaction influence many prope ...

solvate
the ions. In other systems, the electrode reactions can involve the metals of the electrodes as well as the ions of the electrolyte. Electrolytic conductors are used in electronic devices where the chemical reaction at a metal-electrolyte interface yields useful effects. * In
batteries Battery may refer to: Energy source * Electric battery, an electrochemical device to provide electrical power ** Automotive battery, a device to provide power to certain functions of an automobile ** List of battery types * Energy storage, inclu ...
, two materials with different electron affinities are used as electrodes; electrons flow from one electrode to the other outside of the battery, while inside the battery the circuit is closed by the electrolyte's ions. Here, the electrode reactions convert chemical energy to electrical energy. * In some
fuel cell A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell An electrochemical cell is a device capable of either generating electrical energy from chemical reaction A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the chemical transformation of one set of ...

fuel cell
s, a solid electrolyte or
proton conductor A proton conductor is an electrolyte An electrolyte is a substance that produces an electrically conducting solution when dissolved in a polar solvent, such as water. The dissolved electrolyte separates into cations and anions, which disperse uni ...
connects the plates electrically while keeping the hydrogen and oxygen fuel gases separated. * In
electroplating Electroplating is a general name for processes that produce a metal coating on a solid substrate through the redox, reduction of cations of that metal by means of a direct current, direct electric current. The part to be coated acts as the cathode ...
tanks, the electrolyte simultaneously deposits metal onto the object to be plated, and electrically connects that object in the circuit. * In operation-hours gauges, two thin columns of
mercury Mercury usually refers to: * Mercury (planet) Mercury is the smallest planet in the Solar System and the closest to the Sun. Its orbit around the Sun takes 87.97 Earth days, the shortest of all the Sun's planets. It is named after the Roman g ...

mercury
are separated by a small electrolyte-filled gap, and, as charge is passed through the device, the metal dissolves on one side and plates out on the other, causing the visible gap to slowly move along. * In
electrolytic capacitor An electrolytic capacitor is a polarized capacitor A capacitor is a device that stores electric charge in an electric field. It is a passivity (engineering), passive electronic component with two terminal (electronics), terminals. The effec ...

electrolytic capacitor
s the chemical effect is used to produce an extremely thin
dielectric In electromagnetism Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electric charge, electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force is ...

dielectric
or
insulating Insulation may refer to: Thermal * Thermal insulation, use of materials to reduce rates of heat transfer ** List of insulation materials ** Building insulation, thermal insulation added to buildings for comfort and energy efficiency *** Insulated s ...
coating, while the electrolyte layer behaves as one capacitor plate. * In some
hygrometer A hygrometer is an instrument used to measure the amount of water vapor in air, in soil, or in confined spaces. Humidity measurement instruments usually rely on measurements of some other quantities such as temperature, pressure, mass, a mechani ...

hygrometer
s the humidity of air is sensed by measuring the conductivity of a nearly dry electrolyte. * Hot, softened glass is an electrolytic conductor, and some glass manufacturers keep the glass molten by passing a large current through it.


Solid electrolytes

Solid electrolytes can be mostly divided into four groups: * Gel electrolytes – closely resemble liquid electrolytes. In essence, they are liquids in a flexible . Various
additive Additive may refer to: Mathematics * Additive function In number theory, an additive function is an arithmetic function ''f''(''n'') of the positive integer ''n'' such that whenever ''a'' and ''b'' are coprime, the function of the product is the ...
s are often applied to increase the conductivity of such systems. * Dry polymer electrolytes – differ from liquid and gel electrolytes in the sense that salt is dissolved directly into the solid medium. Usually it is a relatively high
dielectric In electromagnetism Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electric charge, electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force is ...

dielectric
constant
polymer A polymer (; Greek ''wikt:poly-, poly-'', "many" + ''wikt:-mer, -mer'', "part") is a Chemical substance, substance or material consisting of very large molecules, or macromolecules, composed of many Repeat unit, repeating subunits. Due to their ...

polymer
( PEO, PMMA,
PAN Pan may refer to: Prefix *''Pan-'', a prefix A prefix is an affix which is placed before the stem of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one word changes it into another word. For example, when the prefix ''un-'' is added to the word ''happy ...

PAN
,
polyphosphazene Polyphosphazenes include a wide range of hybrid inorganic chemistry, inorganic-organic chemistry, organic polymers with a number of different polymer architecture, skeletal architectures with the backbone phosphorus, P-nitrogen, N-P-N-P-N-. In near ...
s,
siloxane A siloxane is a functional group in organosilicon chemistry with the Si−O−Si linkage. The parent siloxanes include the oligomeric and polymer A polymer (; Greek '' poly-'', "many" + '' -mer'', "part") is a substance or material consist ...

siloxane
s, etc.) and a salt with low
lattice energy The lattice energy is the energy required to dissociate one mole of an ionic compound to its constituent ions in the gaseous state. It is a measure of the cohesive forces that bind ions. Lattice energy is relevant to many practical properties in ...
. In order to increase the
mechanical strength Strength of materials, also called mechanics of materials, deals with the behavior of solid objects subject to stresses and strains. The theory began with the consideration of the behavior of one and two dimensional members of structures, whose s ...
and conductivity of such electrolytes, very often are used, and inert ceramic phase is introduced. There are two major classes of such electrolytes: polymer-in-ceramic, and ceramic-in-polymer. * Solid ceramic electrolytes –
ion An ion () is a particle In the Outline of physical science, physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small wikt:local, localized physical body, object to which can be ascribed several physical property, physical or ...
s migrate through the ceramic phase by means of vacancies or interstitials within the lattice. There are also glassy-ceramic electrolytes. * Organic ionic plastic crystals – are a type organic salts exhibiting
mesophaseIn chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo ...
s (i.e. a
state of matter In physics, a state of matter is one of the distinct forms in which matter can exist. Four states of matter are observable in everyday life: solid, liquid, gas, and Plasma (physics), plasma. Many intermediate states are known to exist, such as li ...
intermediate between liquid and solid), in which mobile ions are orientationally or rotationally disordered while their centers are located at the ordered sites in the crystal structure. They have various forms of disorder due to one or more solid–solid
phase transition In chemistry, thermodynamics, and many other related fields, phase transitions (or phase changes) are the Physical process, physical processes of transition between a state of a medium, identified by some parameters, and another one, with differe ...
s below the
melting point The melting point (or, rarely, liquefaction point) of a substance is the temperature at which it changes state of matter, state from solid to liquid. At the melting point the solid and liquid phase exist in Thermodynamic equilibrium, equilibrium. ...

melting point
and have therefore
plastic Plastics are a wide range of syntheticA synthetic is an artificial material produced by organic chemistry, organic chemical synthesis. Synthetic may also refer to: In the sense of both "combination" and "artificial" * Synthetic chemical or sy ...
properties and good mechanical flexibility as well as improved electrode, electrolyte interfacial contact. In particular, protic organic ionic plastic crystals (POIPCs), which are solid
proticA protic solvent is a solvent A solvent (from the Latin language, Latin ''wikt:solvo#Latin, solvō'', "loosen, untie, solve") is a substance that dissolves a solute, resulting in a solution. A solvent is usually a liquid but can also be a solid, a ...
organic salts formed by
proton A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge of +1''e'' elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron. Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are collecti ...

proton
transfer from a Brønsted–Lowry acid–base theory, Brønsted acid to a Brønsted base and in essence are protic ionic liquids in the Molten salt, molten state, have found to be promising solid-state
proton conductor A proton conductor is an electrolyte An electrolyte is a substance that produces an electrically conducting solution when dissolved in a polar solvent, such as water. The dissolved electrolyte separates into cations and anions, which disperse uni ...
s for
fuel cell A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell An electrochemical cell is a device capable of either generating electrical energy from chemical reaction A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the chemical transformation of one set of ...

fuel cell
s. Examples include 1,2,4-triazolium perfluorobutanesulfonate and imidazolium methanesulfonate.


See also

* Strong electrolyte * salt bridge * ITIES (interface between two immiscible electrolyte solutions) * Ion transport number * Elektrolytdatenbank Regensburg * VTPR * Electrochemical machining


References


External links

*
Electrolyte mixtures

Multicomponent electrolyte diffusion

Viscosity of strong electrolytes
{{Use dmy dates, date=April 2017 Electrolytes, Blood tests Urine tests Physical chemistry Acid–base physiology