Sulfuric acid is an oily, colorless liquid with no odor. It is a key component in batteries, wastewater treatment, ore production, and fertilizer creation. Sixty-five percent of all fertilizers available on the market today are created from a combination of this acid and other chemicals. It is created from inorganic materials through a process that utilizes a special type of chemical reaction. More than 40 million tons are produced annually in the United States alone.
When sulfur compounds are burned, sulfur dioxide gas is left behind. When sulfur dioxide gas is heated to 450°F (232°C), the combination turns into sulfur trioxide. Jabir Ibn Hayyan mixed sulfur trioxide with water to create sulfuric acid in the 8th century. A century later, Ibn Zakariya al-Razi, a Persian physician and alchemist, continued studying the acid and discovered it had the ability to destroy iron and copper oxide.
A variety of substances can be mixed with sulfuric acid in order to create new products. Sulfur can be mixed with forms of aluminum to create aluminum sulfates. When aluminum sulfates are mixed with wood pulp, the fibers bond together and create paper. Aluminum sulfates mixed with dioxides create a mixture that takes impurities out of water. These aluminum dioxides are commonly used at water treatment plants.
Cyclohexanoneoxime and sulfuric acid combine to make caprolactum. Caprolactum is used to make nylon. Hydrochloric acid is another creation derived from this acid that is commonly used in the world today. In addition, sodiums and sulfuric acids are combined to help refine petroleum in order to create gasoline.
Due to the acid's unstable properties, it is essential for those combining it with water to add it to the water and not the other way around. If water is poured into sulfuric acid, a volatile explosion of boiling water can be created. Though the acid is non-flammable, it can create hydrogen gas, which is highly volatile.