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The The history of Sulphuric Acid is not certain but the discovery of Sulphuric Acid is credited to Jabir ibn Hayyan in the 8thCentury. The history of Sulphuric Acid tells us that Sulphuric Acid is also known as Oil of Vitriol, Spirit of Vitriol or just Vitriol, the word being derived from the Latin ‘vitreus’ meaning ‘glass’, which describes the ‘glassy’ appearance of the hydrated sulphate salts.
Vitriol was considered a hugely important substance in alchemy as it does not react with gold, which was the intended major product in most alchemy synthesis.
The history of Sulphuric Acid continues when, in the 17th Century, Johan Glauber manufactured Sulphuric Acid in the laboratory by burning Sulphur together with Potassium Nitrate (Saltpeter KNO3) in the presence of steam. This method was adapted by John Roebuck to produce Sulphuric Acid in lead-lined containers which were able to be made much bigger than their glass predecessors. Although some minor refinements were made to this process, Sulphuric Acid was produced this way for almost two hundred years, even though this only produced a solution of 35% to 40% strength.
The history of Sulphuric Acid continues when, in1831 Peregrine Phillips patented the 'contact process' which is the most economical procedure for manufacturing Sulphuric Acid and is the procedure currently used for producing Sulphuric Acid. The 'contact process' involves firstly preparing and purifying Sulphur Dioxide SO2 before oxidation in the presence of Vanadium Pentoxide to create SO3, Sulphur Trioxide. The SO3 is then dissolved in H2SO4 to give Oleum (H2S2O7) which is then diluted to produce H2SO4.
http://www.sulphuric-acid.co.uk/history-of-sulphuric-acid | Saved Friday, November 18th, 2011 - 6:10 AM