Diffuse layer effects on the current in galvanic cells containing supporting electrolyte

M van Soestbergen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


We study the effect of an inert supporting electrolyte on the steady-state ionic current through galvanic cells by solving the full Poisson-Nernst-Planck transport equation coupled to the generalized Frumkin-Butler-Volmer boundary equation for the electrochemical charge transfer at the electrodes. Consequently, the model presented here allows for non-zero space charge densities locally at the electrodes, thus extending the frequently used models based on the local electroneutrality condition by including diffuse layer (DL) effects. This extension is necessary since the DLs determine the ion concentration and electrical field at the reaction planes, which uniquely determine the charge transfer at the electrodes. In this work we present numerical results for systems which contain added inert supporting electrolyte using finite element discretization and compare those with semi-analytical results obtained using singular perturbation theory (limit of negligibly thin DLs). In case of negligibly thin DLs the presence of supporting electrolyte will introduce a limiting current below the classical diffusion-limiting current. Just as for systems without supporting electrolyte, the supporting electrolyte, induced limiting current formally does not occur for systems having non-negligibly thin double DLs. For thin, however still finite, double layers this limit can still be seen as a steepening of the polarization curve for current vs. voltage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1848-1854
Number of pages7
JournalElectrochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • academic journal papers
  • CWTS 0.75 <= JFIS < 2.00

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