Effect of Electrolysis on Rust

Students in the CTE Autobody Careers performed electrolytic rust removal on old parts.  These are images of the rust and residue collected before and after the treatment.

Taken by Student (Autobody Careers)
Rust sample collected before electrolysis treatment
Taken by student (Autobody Carrers)
Residue left after rust underwent electrolysis

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Niramay Gogate says:

    Can you try to do electrolysis when the sample is under the foldscope and post the video? because it would be amazing to see how the iron separates from the rust.

  2. Manu Prakash says:

    @Niramay: That is a fantastic idea Niramay. I can imagine time lapse movies would be one way to see this. Can’t wait to try this.

    Could you also post details of your methods for doing this experiment. We would all benefit from learning the same.

    cheers
    manu

    1. ethompso says:

      Hi All, I’m happy to share the demonstration. The students in the Autobody class were attempting to show “proof of concept” behind the electrolysis of rust. A carbon anode and a rusted iron bolt were placed in a weak Na2CO3 solution (the quantities were undefined for our purposes). Using a low-voltage DC power supply, the two electrodes (carbon and bolt) were held at 5V potential difference and were left for several hours. The students observed that the rust had changed color (from red to black) and had become much easier to remove.

    2. ethompso says:

      I will ask a student from that class if he or she would like to try to make a video, but I would appreciate some tips on how that might be accomplished. Some concerns:
      1. The material is often quite bulky (bolts and such), it might be possible to use shavings
      2. The anodes must be electrically connected, difficult with shavings
      3. The process evolves lots of hydrogen, which may disturb the mount
      4. How would we perform time lapse using cell phones.
      I’ll keep you posted if any students accept this project.

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