Sulfuric acid

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Formula: H2SO4

A highly corrosive, odourless, oily liquid. Also known as oil of vitriol. It is colourless to dark brown depending on its purity and used to manufacture a wide variety of chemicals and materials including fertilizers, paints, detergents, dyes, pigments and explosives. In metallurgy it is often used as a lixiviant.

Sulphuric acid is principally produced by two processes, the lead chamber process and the contact process:

  • The lead chamber process is used to produce much of the acid used to make fertilizers; it produces a relatively dilute acid.
  • The contact process produces a purer, more concentrated acid. In both processes sulphur dioxide is oxidized and dissolved in water. The sulphur dioxide required for these processes is usually obtained by burning sulphur or pyrites or roasting nonferrous sulphide ores prior to smelting.

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