What is sulfuric acid?
Sulfuric acid, formerly called vitriolic, is a mineral acid composed of elements like sulfur, oxygen, and hydrogen, and its chemical formula is H2SO4. It is a colorless, odorless, high-viscosity liquid that is soluble in water and the reaction of combining it with water is very exothermic.
A few drops of concentrated Sulfuric Acid can quickly destroy the linen by the dehydration process. The production rate of this substance in the world is so high that it is commonly referred to as the "king of chemicals". In fact, this acid is so important that its per capita consumption is one of the indicators of determining the technical progress of countries.
Sulfuric acid is a very strong mineral acid that occurs naturally in gases emitted from volcanoes and dissolves in water at any percentage. Its reaction with water is extremely exothermic, so the sudden addition of water should be avoided. Sulfuric Acid has a high affinity for water, so that in reaction with other substances, hydrogen and oxygen separate them as water. Sulfuric Acid is corrosive and makes up the bulk of acid rain. Water droplets react with pollutants of factories and cars that are suspended in the air during rain and produce acid. Sulfuric Acid reacts with metals, and the higher the temperature, the higher the reaction rate, but it has no effect on mercury or lead. Sulfuric Acid is on the list of dangerous substances.
Production of sulfuric acid in the Middle East
The main method of commercial production of Sulfuric Acid is that sulfur dioxide is first prepared from sulfur. Sulfur dioxide is then converted to sulfur trioxide in the process of catalytic oxidation, and then concentrated Sulfuric Acid is produced by the sulfur trioxide reaction with water.
Sulfuric acid production is done in two general ways: main product (optional production) or by-product (forced production). In the production of Sulfuric Acid as the main product of a production unit, methods such as sulfur combustion(or sulfur-burning), pyrite Roasting and Sulfuric Acid recycling have been used.
In the production of Sulfuric Acid as a by-product, basic metal smelting unit, oil refineries and coal-fired power plants are required to reduce sulfur gas emissions during industrial processes in order to control pollution.
Therefore, this type of Sulfuric Acid production is known as forced production. In basic metal smelting units, sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) is produced during the process of smelting or roasting sulfide concentrates of metals such as copper, zinc and lead. Melting units mainly convert output sulfur-containing gas from the melting furnaces into sulfuric acid.
Sulfuric acid trade
An examination of the international trade rate of Sulfuric Acid shows that only a small share of about 7% of total global supply and demand is traded on trade routes. The main reason for this is the corrosive nature of this chemical and the high cost of port infrastructure and transportation. In addition, optional acid-producing units are always constructed next to consumer markets so that they do not have to worry about shipping.
The price of Sulfuric Acid is theoretically relative to the price of sulfur. However, the interference of supply and demand in the global Sulfuric Acid market causes the acid to sulfur price ratio not to be observed.
According to economic and industrial studies, the demand for Sulfuric Acid is not expected to change much in the coming years.
However, demand for Sulfuric Acid will grow at a slight annual rate. Demand for Sulfuric Acid can be expected to grow significantly as a result of production leap in the chemical fertilizer industry.
Middle East Sulfuric Acid Market
In the Middle East, the Sulfuric Acid market is controlled by domestic demand. The production capacity of Sulfuric Acid in the country is about 2.1 million tons, of which only one third is actually operating.
National Middle East Copper Industries Company possess about 100,000 tons, and the rest belong to other private sector producers. The amount of acid production in the Middle East market last year was about three million tons and its apparent consumption amounted to two million tons.
According to the statistics of reputable institutions, in 2019 and 2020, the production of Sulfuric Acid in the world was about 277 million tons, about 60% of which was obtained from sulfur-burning sources. About 50% of Sulfuric Acid in the world is used to produce phosphoric acid and then used for phosphate fertilizers.
It is also used in metals in the copper, zinc and nickel industries, and the rest is used in various industries.
Jozpiri continued: "Sulfuric acid, due to its nature, despite the production and supply of 277 million tons in the world, only possesses 7% of exports and imports and the rest is used locally in the producing country.
Applications of sulfuric acid
The main application of Sulfuric Acid is in the production of phosphate fertilizers. The strategic importance of Sulfuric Acid is in line with this.
With the increasing population of the world and the limitation of agricultural lands, the productivity and efficiency of production of crops from soil per unit, must necessarily be increased to be able to meet the growing population needs
Today, this is no longer done with animal manures. Because animal manures only change the physics of the soil and prepare the soil for growth, they are very poor in nutrients for the plant.
The use of chemical fertilizers is a well-known necessity to increase soil productivity. As mentioned in the applications section, Sulfuric Acid is used in the production of high-consumption fertilizers such as phosphate fertilizers and ammonium sulfate fertilizers, and in such applications cannot be replaced with any other substance, it is very important in that regard.
In the oil refining industry, an acid is commonly used as a catalyst. Sulfuric Acid is one of these important catalysts. This substance is used in SAAU unit or Sulfuric Acid Alkylation unit.
Sulfuric acid is a major component in various types of batteries. The acid of battery contains 35% H2SO4. These types of batteries include high-power batteries such as batteries in hospital imaging equipment, car batteries, agricultural equipment batteries, and so on.
Sulfuric acid packaging and storage
Due to the corrosive nature of sulfuric acid, a storage tank should be prepared for it which is not corrosive and has sufficient resistance against chemicals.
Containers and storage tanks containing Sulfuric Acid should be well sealed and ensure their lids are tightly closed.
And regularly check for any leakage and overflows. If acid is spilled, neutralize it with lime and then wash the contaminated area with plenty of water.
Avoid spilling water on the sulfuric acid, as this will cause heat to build up and acid to spray around. Do not use a piece of cloth or sawdust to absorb the spilled material.
Inform the fire station if the leakage does not stop safely or if it is not possible to safely transfer the material to safe containers.
Sulfuric acid (even in small amounts) should be kept away from other chemicals, especially organic materials, nitrates, chlorates, carbides, peroxides, metal powders, oxidizing chemicals and flammable substances, also be careful that smoking and generating any flame near the storage site should be strictly avoided.