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Chemical and Process Engineering Resources

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Category: Reactions and Processes
Question: How is sulfuric acid produced on an industrial scale including reactants and reaction conditions?
Keywords: elemental,sulfur,burn,dioxide
Answer: First, elemental sulfur is burned is a furnace to form sulfur dioxide:S + O2 ---> SO2The sulfur dioxide is reacted with oxygen over a vanadium catalyst:SO2 + 1/2 O2 ---> SO3Typical feeds for the reactor that converts sulfur dioxide to sulfur trioxide are 11% SO2, 16% O2, and 79% N2. The nitrogen does not participate in the reaction (inert). A 1000 ton/day plant would have a reactor with an area of about 200 ft2. Typical reaction temperatures are between 800 0F and 1100 0F depending on many factors. Once the sulfur trioxide is formed, it is bubbled through water where the final reaction takes place:SO3 + H2O ---> H2SO4A process flow diagram (PFD) for this process appears in a book entitled Elements of Chemical Reaction Engineering, 2nd Edition, p 435, by H. Scott Fogler. Published by Prentice Hall, copyright 1992, ISBN 0132635348