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H2SO4 is the chemical formulation for Sulphuric Acid, a strong mineral acid widely used in industry for water treatment, paint manufacture, Battery Acid and the petro-chemical industry. H2SO4 is also known as Sulfuric Acid, Fuming Sulphuric Acid, Fuming Sulfuric Acid, Oil of Vitriol, Spirit of Vitriol, Vitriol and Oleum. All these names refer to the same product. The spellings differ according to the part of the world in which H2SO4 is used; generally speaking, the Sulphuric Acid spelling with a ‘ph’ is common in the UK and Europe whilst the Sulfuric Acid spelling with a ‘f’ is used in The United States of America and the rest of the world.
Sulphuric Acid was originally discovered in the 8th Century by Jabir ibn Hayyan and the name ‘Vitriol’ is derived from the Latin word ‘vitreus’ meaning ‘glassy’. This referred to the ‘glassy’ appearance of the hydrated sulphate salts.
Vitriol was a hugely important part of alchemy as it does not react with gold, the main product in most alchemy synthesis.
Later, in the sixteen hundreds, Johan Glauber produced H2SO4 in the laboratory by burning together Sulphur with Potassium Nitrate or Saltpeter, KNO3. This was carried out in the presence of steam and the same method was adapted by John Roebuck to produce Sulphuric Acid in lead-lined containers which were able to be produced in a much bigger size than the previous glass containers. With only a few minor adjustments to the manufacturing process, H2SO4 was produced in much the same way for almost two centuries. However, the big drawback with this production method was that it only produced a product of 35% to 40% strength.
In 1831 Peregrine Phillips patented the 'contact process' as the most economical procedure for producing H2SO4. The ‘contact process’ involves preparing and purifying Sulphur Dioxide SO2 before oxidation in the presence of Vanadium Pentoxide to create SO3 or Sulphur Trioxide. The SO3 is then dissolved in H2SO4 to give Oleum or H2S2O7. This is then diluted to produce H2SO4 or Sulphuric Acid.
http://www.sulphuric-acid.co.uk/h2so4 | Saved Friday, November 18th, 2011 - 6:10 AM