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Electrochemistry, redox reactions, and inorganic chemistry

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4. A practical application problem which I have recently encountered:

Recently while a stainless steel reactor vessel was being polished, a problem occurred with the workers' environment. While monitoring atmospheric composition while working in the vessel, high levels of carbon monoxide (above 100 parts per million) were detected.

The walls of the vessel were being electro-polished by use of dilute solutions of phosphoric and sulfuric acids being applied to the wall, and direct currents of electricity being conducted through the vessel, with the vessel itself functioning as the anode.

Now, the question that was asked to me is what would account for the abnormally high levels of CO in the vessel?

Using your knowledge of chemistry that you have gained this semester, you can formulate a rational explanation. Show all pertinent reactions, and give a logical explanation of your answer. Hint: This problem involves the use of electro chemistry, redox reactions, and inorganic chemistry, but there is nothing tricky about it. You must however consider all information given!

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Solution Summary

This solution is provided in 247 words. It hypothesizes the reasoning for a certain reaction and provides explanation for this, including redox reactions and combustion.