Applications of Sulfuric Acid
Sulfuric acid referred to as a universal chemical, king of chemicals due to the numerous applications for sulfuric acid as a raw material or processing agent. Sulfuric acid is the most commonly used chemical in the world and used in almost all industries like Fertilizers, Pharmaceuticals, Gasoline, Automobile batteries, Paper bleaching, Sugar bleaching, Water treatment, Sulfonation agents, Cellulose fibers, Steel manufacturing, Coloring agents, Amino acid intermediates, Regeneration of ion exchange resins.
Sulfur acid is an important industrial chemical that is used in the manufacturing processes of many goods. Sulfuric acid used in the pulp and paper industry for chlorine dioxide generation, tall oil splitting, and pH-adjustments. The annual worldwide production of sulphuric acid stands at around 180 million tons.
Sulfuric acid is a strongly acidic, oily liquid that may be clear to cloudy in appearance. Concentrated sulfuric acid acts as both an oxidizing and dehydrating agent. Sulfuric acid is available in many grades ranging from electrolyte grade (33 weight percent) for batteries, to 93 weight percent (66 deg Baume), 98 weight percent, and 20-22 weight percent fuming oleum containing excess dissolved sulfur trioxide. The grade most often shipped is 93 weight percent. Sulfuric acid is a very important commodity chemical, and indeed, a nation’s sulfuric acid production has been a reasonably good indicator of its industrial strength for the last century or so.
Here are some of the growing number of end-users and applications using sulfuric acid
Agricultural chemicals, Aluminum Sulfate, Batteries, Cellophane, Detergents, Explosives, Fertilizers, Gasoline, Herbicides, Iron and steel pickling, Jet Fuel, Kerosene, Leather, Lubricating Oils, Medicinal processes, Oil additives, Paper, Rayon and rubber, Sugar, Synthetic fibers, Veterinary drugs, Water softener regeneration, Water treatment, Yellow pigments.
As a highly important chemical compound, sulphuric acid is used in the manufacturing process of a number of well-known chemicals including hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, phosphoric acid, and many other industrial chemicals.
The process of refining crude oil requires the use of an acid as a catalyst and Sulphuric acid is often used for this purpose. It is used in an SAAU or sulphuric acid Alkylation Unit.
‘Pickling’ is a term used to describe the treatment of metals to remove impurities from the surface. Today, the use of sulphuric acid for this purpose has decreased a little as the industry now favors the use of hydrochloric acid. Although hydrochloric acid is more expensive than sulphuric acid, it produces results more quickly and minimizes the loss of base metal during the pickling process.
The Manufacturing of Rayon
The textile Rayon is made from cellulose fibers derived from wood. These are dissolved in a solution of Tetra Amine Copper (II) to produce a thick blue liquid which is then injected into sulphuric acid to form Rayon fibers. Rayon is considered to be a good semi-synthetic textile and can rival silk for drape and luster. Indeed, it is sometimes referred to as ‘art silk’. It is easily dyed and the fabric is soft, cool, and smooth. However, unlike silk, Rayon does not insulate body heat so is perfect for use in humid and hot countries.
The Manufacturing of Lead Acid Type Batteries
Sealed-unit lead-acid type batteries are used in the automotive industry for cars and trucks. Sealed-unit lead-acid type batteries were invented in 1859 by Frenchman Gaston Plants. Sulphuric acid is used in a dilute form to act as an electrolyte to allow the flow of electrons between the plates in the battery. Sulphuric acid used in this way is commonly called Battery Acid. It can vary in strength according to the battery manufacturer but is generally between 28 to 32 percent.
Potato farmers employ specialist contractors to spray their fields of potatoes before harvesting so that the green tops die back and blacken within a day or two. This helps to dry out the stem and prevents them from becoming tangled in the harvesting equipment. The usual method of spraying potato tops is with a solution of sulphuric acid.
The Manufacturing of Medicines
Chemotherapy drugs are used to treat various types of cancer. Cancer cells are more sensitive to DNA damage than normal cells so in chemotherapy treatment cancer cells are destroyed by damaging their DNA. This process is known as alkylation of DNA and a type of drug known as alkylating antineoplastic agents is used. Sulphuric acid is used in the manufacturing process of such drugs.