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Information @ a Glance

 General
  • Sulphuric acid is clear, colourless or brown oily liquid that is highly corrosive. Sulphuric acid is made by burning sulphur. The sulphur dioxide given off is then reacted with a catalyst at high temperature to give sulphur trioxide. This can then be absorbed to give the acid. Depending on its intended use, it can be further diluted with water. This method of manufacture is called the Contact Process.

  • Sulfuric acid is a corrosive chemical and can severely burn the skin and eyes. It may cause third degree burns and blindness on contact. Exposure to sulfuric acid mist can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs, and at higher levels can cause a buildup of fluid in the lungs . Asthmatics are particularly sensitive to the pulmonary irritation. Repeated exposures may cause permanent damage to the lungs and teeth. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified 'occupational exposures to strong-inorganic-acid mists containing sulfuric acid' as carcinogenic to humans.

Process

  • A small amount of Sulphur, S, is kindled on a deflagrating spoon, it burns with a bright blue flame when introduced into a gas jar containing Oxygen, O2. A gas, Sulphur Dioxide, SO2, is the main product of the combustion. However, a little Sulphur Trioxide, SO3, is also formed, which makes the gas slightly cloudy.
  • A dual absorption contact process sulfuric acid plant that burns elemental sulfur. In the Frasch process, elemental sulfur is melted, filtered to remove ash, and sprayed under pressure into a combustion chamber. The sulfur is burned in clean air that has been dried by scrubbing with 93 to 99 percent sulfuric acid.

  •  The gases from the combustion chamber cool by passing through a waste heat boiler and then enter the catalyst (vanadium pentoxide) converter. Usually, 95 to 98 percent of the sulfur dioxide from the combustion chamber is converted to sulfur trioxide, with an accompanying large evolution of heat. After being cooled, again by generating steam, the converter exit gas enters an absorption tower. The absorption tower is a packed column where acid is sprayed in the top and where the sulfur trioxide enters from the bottom.

Technology

  • WSA technology for the sulphuric acid plant and the design work started in November 2002 on basis of a Letter of Intent. The contract for supply by Topsøe of detailed engineering, all equipment and materials for the process plant inside battery limits as well as first charge of catalyst .

  • The Topsøe WSA process is highly suited for treatment of sulphur containing gases with a wide range of concentration of the sulphurous gas, ranging from a few tenths of percent to strong gases. The process also accepts process gas containing appreciable content of water that does not need to be dried prior to processing. The process is extremely flexible and adapts to large variations in feed gas flow and in concentration of the sulphurous compounds.

Market

  • Major sulphur producers include the USA, Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, which account for 65% of global volume. The global sulfur industry remained divided into two sectors discretionary and nondiscretionary. In the discretionary sector, the mining of sulfur or pyrites is the sole objective; this voluntary production of native sulfur or pyrites is based on the orderly mining of discrete deposits with the objective of obtaining as near complete recovery of the resource as economic conditions permit.

  •  In the nondiscretionary sector, sulfur or sulfuric acid is recovered as an involuntary byproduct; the quantity of output subject to demand for the primary product irrespective of sulfur demand. Discretionary sources, once the primary sources of sulfur in all forms, represented 10.5% of the sulfur produced in all forms worldwide in 2005. Small quantities of native sulfur were produced in Asia, Europe, and South America.

  •  The importance of pyrites to the world sulfur supply has significantly decreased; China and Finland were the only countries of the top producers whose primary sulfur source was pyrites. About 80.0% of pyrite world production was in China. Sulfur and sulfuric acid will continue to be important in agricultural and industrial applications, although consumption will be less than production. Because sulfuric acid consumption for phosphate fertilizer production was expected to increase at a lower rate than some other uses, phosphate may become less dominant in sulfur consumption but remain the leading end use.

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