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In chemistry, the reactivity series is a series of metals, in order of reactivity from highest to lowest. It is used to determine the products of single displacement reactions, whereby metal A will replace another metal B in a solution if A is higher in the series.
Additional recommended knowledge
In the UK a reduced version of the series below is taught as part of the GCSE chemistry course, leading to various mnemonics being invented to aid memory. The reactivity series taught in the US is defined by the ease of oxidation and corresponds to the ordering of the table of standard electrode potentials. This is markedly different from the table below.
A reactivity series of common metals
Here is a series of some of the most common metals, listed in descending order of reactivity.
A metal can replace metals listed below it in the activity series, but not above. For example, sodium is highly active and thus able to replace hydrogen from water:
The reactivity series has applications in electrochemistry, where two dissimilar metals are chosen as electrodes of a battery (though the above table is not exact for this purpose. See Table of standard electrode potentials).
The simplified version that is taught in the GCSE and GCE 'O' Level chemistry course, as the basic, are listed below. Higher education and standard level are required to study more metals as shown above.
The reactivity series determines qualitatively characteristics such as the reactions with water, air and acids as demonstrated above. However it is defined by the nature of the metals in single displacement reactions.
When a metal in elemental form is placed in a solution of a metal salt it may be, overall, more energetically feasible for this "elemental metal" to exist as an ion and the "ionic metal" to exist as the element. Therefore the elemental metal will 'displace' the ionic metal over time, thus the two swap places. Only a metal higher in the reactivity series will displace another.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Reactivity_series". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|