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I am curious about batteries.  If an electrolyte such as NaCl can conduct electricity, then why do electrolytes block electrons/conductivity in a battery?  It seems that a conductive electrolyte in a battery would cause self discharge without a circuit.

Hello Elizabeth,

The positive terminal is positive because the electrode at that end gives up electrons to complete the sodium ions. The negative terminal is negative because the electrode at that end accepts electrons to relieve the chlorine ions of their extra electrons.

I hope this helps,


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Steve Johnson


I would be delighted to help with questions up through the first year of college Physics. Particularly Electricity, Electronics and Newtonian Mechanics (motion, acceleration etc.). I decline questions on relativity and Atomic Physics. I also could discuss the Space Shuttle and space flight in general.


I have a BS in Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering. I am retired now. My professional career was in Electrical Engineering with considerable time spent working with accelerometers, gyroscopes and flight dynamics (Physics related topics) while working on the Space Shuttle. I gave formal classroom lessons to technical co-workers periodically over a several year period.

BS Physics, North Dakota State University
MS Electrical Engineering, North Dakota State University

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