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Benchtop Power Supplies:
Many available, but here are two examples:
These are often the most economical options for bulk electrolysis experiments. Note, they do not allow for the use of reference electrodes, alternating currents and cannot be used for analytical measurements (CV). Most of the benchtop power supplies are single output and lack programmability but are a good starting point for conducting bulk electrolysis. If the potential range is high enough, one can daisy-chain reactions to run several reactions at the same time at the same current using a single power supply, since electrical current is constant throughout a circuit.
Given the high currents and potentials required for flow electrochemistry, a power supply like these is often necessary (provided the flow system does not come with its own integrated power supply).
Some benchtop power supplies can provide very high potential and currents, so always exercise caution.
All in one electrochemical setup: IKA ElectraSyn 2.0
The IKA ElectraSyn is a power source and stirrer plate, to be used with Electrasyn compatible vials, lids, and electrodes. The ElectraSyn is designed to enable a synthetic chemist to run electrochemical reactions with ease, as it is all clip-in/plug-in. The integrated display of the ElectraSyn allows you to set up the exact electrochemical parameters and will calculate the charge and time required for you. As the components and cell set-ups are standardised, repeating reactions in Electrosyn is facile.
Potentiostats/Galvanostats: Analytical instruments that can do preparative chemistry
These are powerful, more expensive instruments that can perform a wide range of analytical (CV, LSW, SQV) and bulk electrolysis experiments (chronopotentiometry and chronoamperometry, including variable waveforms), as well as in many cases, impedance spectroscopy. Multi channel options are also available for conducting multiple reactions simultaneously and dense data outputs are generated, which can aid rapid reaction development.
There are also several more economical/homemade alternatives:
2. An Easily Fabricated Low-Cost Potentiostat Coupled with User-Friendly Software for Introducing Students to Electrochemical Reactions and Electroanalytical Techniques | Journal of Chemical Education
General Considerations for Choosing a Power Source
The use of a power source in the lab can fall broadly into two categories: analytical electrochemistry (CV, LSW, SWV, EIS) and preparative electrochemistry (bulk electrolysis). It may be better to buy separate equipment for these two applications, although some equipment can do most of the two mostly quite well. Many instruments come with a wide range of parameters and deciding which are important for your application can be confusing. Below is a breakdown of some factors to consider when deciding what equipment is best.
1. Maximum potential/current ranges and potential/current accuracy
When considering maximum potentials required, most small scale (<1 mmol/100 mM) bulk electrolysis requires less than 30V and a potential accuracy of 100 mV is sufficient. Similarly, a current output of 50 mA will suffice for most lab-scale batch electrolysis reactions, but current accuracy should be considered more carefully. ±1 mA is common for lower end power supplies, but as many reported procedures require low current intensities (~10 mA) the error associated in the current supplied can be substantial. For these types of applications an accuracy of ±0.1 mA is better. It should be noted that large scale batch reactions or flow electrochemistry will often exceed these current or potential ranges.
2. Waveform requirements.
Depending on the type of electrolysis required you may require a power supply that is capable of both constant current and constant potential electrolysis. Alternative waveforms (such as alternating polarity) are not as widely used as constant potential or constant current electrolysis, but can be situationally useful, so the ability to perform these should also be considered.
3. Programmability and data output.
The ability to set an automatic power cut-off after a specified time or charge applied threshold is reached is useful for performing reactions without having to constantly monitor it. Most power supplies offer these cut-offs. The benchtop power supplies can be easily controlled with inexpensive wall timers. The data outputs available from the more expensive instruments allow for greater analysis of reaction data (observed currents/potentials) and can be useful in reaction development.
4. Reference electrode compatibility
Instruments that can operate in a three-electrode configuration (with a reference electrode) are necessary for analytical experiments, such as cyclic voltammetry. These are not necessary if trying to reproduce literature conditions (assuming the procedure does not call for a reference electrode). The use of a reference electrode allows for the monitoring of half-cell processes independently and can be very useful for reaction monitoring and optimization.
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