I've pored over many articles on electrochemical cells, and I understand that on the oxidation side of a zinc-copper Daniell cell, the anode is highly negatively charged because zinc participates in oxidation and loses electrons as the ions go into the zinc sulfate.

So since the anode is rich in free electrons, is it possible to take an electrically neutral, large conductor (a metallic sphere for example), touch it to the negative terminal of the battery so that the free electrons will distribute themselves over its surface, discharge the sphere, and repeat this until the negative terminal is neutralized?

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  • $\begingroup$ You'd need two spheres, one for each terminal, so the battery in effect pumped electrons from one sphere to the other until the potential difference between the spheres matched the cell EMF. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Nov 20 '18 at 17:21

A battery, as a whole, is neutral. If you, somehow, manage to remove a few electrons from it, i.e., break its neutrality, the battery will try to get those electrons back at the very next opportunity.

So, no matter where the metallic sphere touches the battery next time around, at a negative terminal or at the positive, the electrons, originally removed from the battery, will jump right back to the battery.

As John Rennie have suggested in his comment, if you want to draw some number of electrons from a negative terminal, you have to, simultaneously, feed the same number of electrons into its positive terminal. This way, the battery will remain neutral.


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