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Sulfuric acid

Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is a colorless, viscous liquid and is one of the most important chemical substances. It is a strong acid with high reactivity and is widely used in the industry.

Also known as: sulphuric acid.

Sulfuric acid

Chemical properties of sulfuric acid

  1. Acidity: Sulfuric acid is one of the strongest acids and dissociates in water, releasing two protons (H+). It reacts with bases, forming sulfate salts.
  2. Oxidizing properties: H2SO4 can act as an oxidizing agent in chemical reactions. It can oxidize substances by accepting electrons and reducing itself to sulfate ions (SO42-). For example, it can oxidize iron (Fe) to iron ions (Fe3+).
  3. Dehydration: H2SO4 is a powerful dehydrating agent and can remove water molecules from various substances. This can lead to the deformation and reduction of the mass of materials in contact with sulfuric acid.
  4. Esterification: H2SO4 can form esters with organic compounds. This process, known as sulfonation, is used in chemical syntheses to obtain various organosulfate compounds.
  5. Catalyst: H2SO4 can act as a catalyst in various chemical reactions. It can accelerate hydrolysis, esterification, and other processes.

It’s important to note that H2SO4 is highly corrosive and dangerous, requiring careful handling and adherence to safety precautions.

Production of sulfuric acid

Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) can be produced using various methods, including:

  1. Contact process: This is the most common method for large-scale production of sulfuric acid. It involves the catalytic oxidation of sulfur dioxide (SO2) to sulfuric acid (H2S2O7), which is then hydrolyzed to form sulfuric acid. The process is conducted at high temperatures and in the presence of a catalyst, often vanadium-containing compounds.
  2. Fumigation method: This method is used to obtain H2SO4 from sulfur dioxide, which is produced during the production of metallurgical alloys, sulfur, or petroleum. Sulfur dioxide is oxidized by oxygen in the presence of catalysts such as platinum or tungsten dioxide, resulting in H2SO4.
  3. Regeneration process: This method is used to regenerate sulfuric acid from used acid generated in chemical processes. It involves the concentration and purification of the used acid, making it reusable.

Applications of sulfuric acid

H2SO4 has a wide range of applications in various industries and other areas. Some primary applications of sulfuric acid include:

  1. Chemical industry: H2SO4 serves as a crucial chemical reagent in many processes. It is used in the production of various chemical compounds, including fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, dyes, some plastics, and polymers.
  2. Mining industry: H2SO4 is used for the extraction of ores, such as copper, nickel, zinc, and uranium. It helps dissolve metals from ores and separate them for further processing.
  3. Battery industry: H2SO4 is used in the production of lead-acid batteries. It acts as an electrolyte, providing ionic conductivity within the battery’s internal electrolyte.
  4. Pharmaceutical industry: H2SO4 is used in the production of various pharmaceutical preparations and chemical substances. It can be used for synthesizing medicinal compounds, adjusting the pH of solutions, and other processes.
  5. Water supply and purification: H2SO4 is used for pH regulation in water and water purification processes. It can neutralize various pollutants and remove iron, manganese, and others from water.