What is sulfuric acid?
We explain what is sulfuric acid, what is its formula and its various uses. In addition, its safety sheet and properties of this compound.
What is sulfuric acid?
Sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive chemical compound , usually obtained in laboratories from sulfur dioxide. It is one of the most generated and used chemical products in the whole world, since it has numerous applications in the industry and in the synthesis of other chemical materials.
The sulfuric acid molecule is composed of hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur , arranged pyramidal with sulfur in the center and oxygen in the vertices. It is known as tetraoxosulfuric acid, hydrogen tetraoxosulfate (IV), vitriol oil, vitriol liquor or vitriol spirit.
These last names are due to the way in which it was discovered in the European Middle Ages, when the alchemists obtained it from sulfate salt crystals, material they knew as vitriol, from the Latin vitreus (“crystal”).
Vitriol was supposed to be the most important chemical in the world, which could be used as a philosopher’s stone. There were thus blue or Roman vitriol (copper sulfate II), white vitriol (zinc sulfate), green vitriol (iron sulfate II), red vitriol (cobalt sulfate II) and Mars vitriol (iron sulfate III).
Currently sulfuric acid is available in numerous presentations and degrees of purity .
Sulfuric Acid Formula
The standard chemical formula for sulfuric acid is H 2 SO 4 , which means two atoms of hydrogen, one of sulfur and four of oxygen, arranged in a pyramidal manner.
Uses of sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid applications are primarily in the chemical and petrochemical industry, as part of obtaining other acids and bases.
This is particularly important in the fertilizer industry , as well as in oil refining , steel treatment, or the manufacture of explosives, detergents and plastics .
Its importance is also known in the wood and paper industry , or in many processes of the textile industry, or in the production of batteries , although the proportion of the acid they possess is really small.
Finally, in many countries its commercialization is under strict supervision , since it is part of the chemicals commonly used in the manufacture of cocaine.
Sulfuric Acid Safety Sheet
Sulfuric acid requires care in handling and storage, since its contact with the skin, with the mucous membranes (by inhalation or ingestion), or with other parts of the body can cause irritation, burns or even total destruction of tissues , depending of the acid concentration. Repeated exposures of low concentration can cause dermatitis or even cancer.
However, it is not flammable , per se, although in contact with metals it produces hydrogen that it is. Contact with water should be avoided , as a highly exothermic reaction is generated that can lead to fires or acid splashes (if water is added to the acid).
Properties of sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid is an oily, colorless liquid with a particular odor , depending on its concentration. It has a melting point of 10 ° C and a boiling point of 337 ° C, as well as a density of 1.84g / cm3. It is miscible with water, but generates heat, given its enormous dehydrating effect, also on hydrocarbon molecules (such as sucrose).