Producing Sulfuric Acid

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Producing sulfuric acid: The Contact process

Sulfuric acid (\(\text{H}_{2}\text{SO}_{4}\)) is produced from sulfur, oxygen and water through the Contact process. In the first step, sulfur is burned to produce sulfur dioxide (\(\text{SO}_{2}\)):

\(\text{S}(\text{s}) + \text{O}_{2}(\text{g})\) \(\to\) \(\text{SO}_{2}(\text{g})\)

This is then oxidised to sulfur trioxide (\(\text{SO}_{3}\)) using oxygen in the presence of a vanadium(V) oxide catalyst:

\(2\text{SO}_{2}(\text{g}) + \text{O}_{2}(\text{g})\) \(\rightleftharpoons\) \(2\text{SO}_{3}(\text{g})\)

Finally the sulfur trioxide is treated with water to produce sulfuric acid with a purity of \(\text{98}\) – 99%:

\(\text{SO}_{3}(\text{g}) + \text{H}_{2}\text{O}(\text{l})\) \(\to\) \(\text{H}_{2}\text{SO}_{4}(\text{l})\)

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