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Module Four of CCE 281 Corrosion: Impact, Principles, and Practical Solutions

Conversion between Reference Electrodes

When reporting electrochemical potential measurements, it is always important to indicate which reference half-cell was used to carry out the work. This information is required to compare these measurements to similar data that could have been obtained using any other reference half-cells. The scheme presented in the following Figure provides a graphical representation to help visualize some of the information listed here. (reference)


Conversion between reference electrodes

Graphical scheme to compare potentials of the most commonly used reference electrodes

We can take the case of a measurement of the potential of a steel pipe buried in the ground, using a saturated copper-copper sulfate reference electrode (CCSRE). This might show a potential of -0.700 V measured in this way. To convert this potential to a value on the scale in which the hydrogen electrode has a potential of zero, it is necessary to add 0.318 volt to the potential that was measured, making it - 0.382 volt vs. SHE.

Example problem 4.6

What does a measured potential value of 0.8 V vs. SHE would be if the potential had been measured with a saturated silver chloride electrode? ... with a saturated copper sulfate electrode? 

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