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What are Redox Reactions?

A redox reaction (or an oxidation-reduction reaction) is a chemical reaction in which the oxidation states of the reactants change. These reactions can be broken down into two individual processes – an oxidation process and a reduction process.

The oxidation process refers to the loss of electrons and is generally accompanied by an increase in the oxidation state of the chemical species that lost the electrons. On the other hand, the reduction process involves the gain of electrons and a decrease in the oxidation state of the species that accepts the electrons. A substance that readily undergoes reduction is known as an oxidising agent whereas a substance that is easily oxidized is called a reducing agent.

Common examples of oxidizing agents include O2, Cl2, and O3. Hydracids such as hydrochloric acid, hydrogen bromide, hydrogen iodide, and hydrogen sulfide act as good reducing agents.

Redox reactions can be of several types; many decomposition reactions, combination reactions, displacement reactions, and disproportionation reactions are redox processes.

Applications of Redox Reactions

The AA batteries that are commonly used to power electronic devices such as TV remotes and digital clocks are electrochemical cells. These cells generate electricity from the redox reactions that take place in them.

Another important application of redox reactions is in the process of electroplating, which uses these reactions to form a thin coating of a given material on the surface of another material. Gold-plated jewellery is often made with the help of this process.

Many named reactions in organic chemistry can be identified as redox processes. One such example is the Cannizzaro reaction.

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