3.53 | Spring 2001 | Graduate

Electrochemical Processing of Materials


Course Introduction by Prof. Donald Sadoway

Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session





3.185 (applies only to undergraduates)


2 Quizzes (1.5 hours each) 70% (35% each)
Homework 30%

There is no final exam.


Bard, A. J., and L. R. Faulkner. Electrochemical Methods. 2nd ed. New York: Wiley, 2000. ISBN: 9780471043720.

What is the purpose of 3.53?

  • To teach the elements of electrochemical processing as they derive from electrochemical fundamentals.
  • To interpret contemporary industrial practice in term of the relevant thermodynamics and kinetics.


Unit 1: Equilibrium Electrochemistry or “Ions in Solution”

Thermodynamic and transport properties of electrolytes – aqueous and molten; solution models: Debye-Hückel (aqueous), Temkin (molten salts); electrode potentials (the underlying physics, i.e., electron excess or electron deficiency on the electrode); emf series (aqueous and molten salts); reference electrodes (thermodynamics [establishing the voltage value] and kinetics [their iE characteristic]). For this part of the course I draw on notes of my own that I have prepared from various sources.

Unit 2: Electrochemical Kinetics or Rate Processes in Electrochemistry

Electrode-electrolyte interface, nature of the double layer; kinetics of electrode processes, competition between processes involving mass transport and interfacial processes such as charge transfer at the electrode/electrolyte interface; laboratory techniques to determine rate and mechanism: controlled E, controlled i, a.c. methods, i.e., a.c. voltammetry and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, including the underlying electrical engineering – namely construction of the equivalent circuit. We get into phasors and impedance plots in the complex plane, but in a manner that has some practical value – data interpretation for process optimization, maybe even on-line control; stationary and rotating electrodes. This entire unit pretty much follows the text. We cover reasonably thoroughly almost everything in Chapters 3 through 9.

Unit 3: Electrochemical Processing

Winning, refining, plating, synthesis; current efficiency, voltage efficiency, power efficiency; energy balances; materials issues and environmental issues; case studies on Hall cell electrolysis to produce aluminum and electrolytic production of magnesium by both the Dow process and the I.G. Farben process. In studying aluminum and electrolytic magnesium technologies we try to rationalize contemporary industrial practice in the light of what we have learned earlier in the semester. Includes consideration of the environmental issues as, for example, in the case of the quest for the carbon-free anode for the Hall process.


I do not have time to do everything. In the past, these topics were not covered directly, although much of what I teach supports the study of these as well: corrosion; solid electrolytes. This year, depending upon the particular interests of the students in the class, I’m hoping to say something about batteries and fuel cells.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2001
Learning Resource Types
Course Introduction
Problem Sets with Solutions
Exams with Solutions