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Palladium-hydrogen electrode

The Palladium-Hydrogen electrode (Abbreviation: Pd/H2) is one of the common reference electrodes used in electrochemical study. Most of its characteristics are similar to the standard hydrogen electrode (with platinum). But palladium has one significant feature - the capability to absorb (dissolve into itself) molecular hydrogen.

Two phases can coexist in palladium when hydrogen is absorbed:

  • alpha-phase at hydrogen concentration <0.3 atom percent
  • beta-phase at hydrogen concentration corresponds to the non-stoichiometric formula PdH0.6

The electrochemical behaviour of a palladium electrode in equilibrium with H3O+ ions in solution parallels the behaviour of palladium with molecular hydrogen
1/2H2 = Hads = Habs
Thus the equilibrium is controlled in one case by the partial pressure of fugacity of molecular hydrogen and in other case - by activity of H+-ions in solution.

E=E^0 + {RT \over F}\ln {a_{H^+} \over (p_{H2})^{1/2}}

When palladium is electrochemically charged by hydrogen, the existence of two phases is manifested by a constant potential of aprox. +50 mV vs reversible hydrogen electrode. This potential is independent of the amount of hydrogen absorbed over a wide range. This property has been utilized in the construction of a palladium/hydrogen reference electrode. The main feature of such electrode is an absence of non-stop bubbling of molecular hydrogen through the solution as it is absolutely necessary for the standard hydrogen electrode.


  • E. Gileadi, E.Kirowa-Eisner, J.Penciner Experiments in interfacial electrochemistry. Institute of Chemistry, Tel-Aviv Univ., part 2, pp. 247-249
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Palladium-hydrogen_electrode". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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