A rod of perfectly pure zinc, when immersed in dilute sulphuric acid, is so very slowly attacked that there is no visible evolution of gas; but, if a piece of platinum, copper or other more electro-positive metal be brought into contact with the zinc, it dissolves readily, with evolution of hydrogen and formation of the sulphate.
Zinc being more electro-positive even than nickel, all the heavy metals must be removed before its deposition is attempted.
Newlands in England, that if they are arranged in the order of their atomic weights they fall into groups in which similar chemical and physical properties are repeated at periodic intervals; and in particular he showed that if the atomic weights are plotted as ordinates and the atomic volumes as abscissae, the curve obtained presents a series of maxima and minima, the most electro-positive elements appearing at the peaks of the curve in the order of their atomic weights.
Soluble impurities which are more electro-negative than the metal under treatment must, if present, be removed by a preliminary process, and the voltage and other conditions must be so selected that none of the more electro-positive metals are co-deposited with the metal to be refined.
On the other hand, its electro-positive nature necessitates some care in its utilization.
The highly electro-positive character of aluminium is most important.