When you were still in your chemistry class, you often heard the term Sulfuric Acid. You knew that it is a very corrosive liquid that is also odorless, colorless and very dangerous. You were surprised as to why such a seemingly hazardous and useless substance has come into creation. Well, this is because you do not have any idea about its uses in our society.
Sulphuric Acid is usually produced in mining industries. It is produced when metal ores are smelted. Most metal ores are sulfides and in the smelting process, sulfur dioxide gas is produced. Thanks to technological advancements, this gas can now be contained. Along with the containment, the gas can be processed in order to create sulfuric acid. Water is sprayed on the gas and then it is cleaned, cooled, dried and then made to run in a catalytic converter. After Acidaburn being processed in the catalytic converter, the produce is then mixed with water. The mixture would then make sulfuric acid, thus you get H2SO4. The Belgian Johann Van Helmont is the very first person to prepare the chemical.
The acid is known to be a very strong pollutant. However, even with the dangers associated with it, the acid is also very beneficial in some industries. Needless to say, it has become a very important industrial chemical. In fact, because of its importance, it is estimated that in the United States alone, sometime in 1990, there were around forty-million tons of this chemical produced. What need calls for such amount of chemical? Here are some of the industries that benefit with the use of the acid.
In the agricultural industries, the acid is used in the manufacturing of fertilizers. In fact, it was found out that sixty-five percent of the acid production is dedicated for this industry.
In the chemical industry, it is used to produce some common industrial byproducts such as perfumes, paper, drugs, glue, cellophane, pigments, films, plastic, and substances such as phosphoric acid, nitric acid, and hydrochloric acid. The acid is also used to create certain kinds of explosives such as TNT (tri-nitro-toluene).
The petroleum industry also needs to use the acid in removing tarry compounds and sulphur in the petroleum.
Metallurgy utilizes the acid for gold purification, for metal pickling before metal is coated, and for copper extraction.
Storage batteries also use sulfuric acid to function as an electrolyte medium in the accumulators. This can be commonly found in lead-acid storage batteries. The acid is especially helpful in automobiles and the likes.
In laboratories, the acid is used as dehydrating agent, reagent and drying agent. There are but a lot of uses for sulphuric acid. However, one must remember the dangers that come along with the handling of this chemical. That is why careful hazard measures should be observed when using the acid.
In laboratory use, one must be careful in making the acid come into contact with water because of the former’s highly exothermic reaction with the latter. The mixture of the acid and water could cause burns that are far more serious than burns caused by other acids. The mixture does not only cause burns from the heat generated from the acid and water mixture but it can also cause dehydration and lead to tissue damage. When faced with this kind of situation, you need to remove any clothing that has also come into contact with the acid and water. Then, you need to continuously wash the affected area with water for 10-15 minutes. This will help cool down the surrounding areas and prevent other damage.