Observations on Lemon Cells
high school, introductory chemistry, chemical education research, misconceptions, discrepant events, electrochemistry
The lemon cell, consisting of pieces of two different metals stuck into a lemon or other fruit, is pictured in many general chemistry textbooks without being discussed. We describe simple experiments, suitable for the general chemistry laboratory, which elucidate how this kind of cell works. They show that (i) the cell is not two metal-metal ion half cells, and (ii) the cell reaction involves dissolution of the more active metal and generation of hydrogen on the less active metal. Why the cell works this way is explained, and the cell's historical importance is discussed.
Goodisman, Jerry, "Observations on Lemon Cells" (2001). Chemistry - Faculty Scholarship. 16.
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