Question

# Suppose that scientists had chosen the $C u^{2+} | Cu$ half-cell as a standard instead of the $H^+ | H_2$ half-cell? What would the potential of the hydrogen electrode be if the copper electrode were the standard? How would the relationships among the standard reduction potentials change?

Solution

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The reaction $Cu^{2+} + 2 \ e^- \rightarrow Cu$ has standard reduction potential of $E^0 = 0.3419 \ V$. This value is based on the hydrogen as the reference electrode.

If copper was used as the standard electrode, it would take the value of zero. Hydrogen would have a standard reduction potential of $E^0=-0.3419 \ V$.

The standard reduction potential will change $0.3419 \ V$ back. Making the copper as the standard electrode will only change the reference point. If you solve for the potential difference between the half-cells, the answer will still yield the same answer. It is so much like counting starting from 0 to 5 and counting from 10 to 15. You will have a different starting and ending point but you will still have the same number and way to count numbers.

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