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8.10Sulfuric Acid8.10.1General1-2Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is a basic raw material used in a wide range of industrial processes andmanufacturing operations.Almost 70 percent of sulfuric acid manufactured is used in the productionof phosphate fertilizers.Other uses include copper leaching, inorganic pigment production, petroleumrefining, paper production, and industrial organic chemical production.Sulfuric acid may be manufactured commercially by either the lead chamber process or thecontact process.Because of economics, all of the sulfuric acid produced in the U. S. is now producedby the contact process.U. S. facilities produce approximately 42 million megagrams (Mg) (46.2million tons) of H2SO4annually.Growth in demand was about 1 percent per year from 1981 to 1991and is projected to continue to increase at about 0.5 percent per year.8.10.2Process Description3-5Since the contact process is the only process currently used, it will be the only one discussedin this section.Contact plants are classified according to the raw materials charged to them: elementalsulfur burning, spent sulfuric acid and hydrogen sulfide burning, and metal sulfide ores and smeltergas burning.The contributions from these plants to the total acid production are 81, 8, and 11percent, respectively.The contact process incorporates 3 basic operations, each of which corresponds to a distinctchemical reaction.First, the sulfur in the feedstock is oxidized (burned) to sulfur dioxide (SO2):(1)SO2→SO2The resulting sulfur dioxide is fed to a process unit called a converter, where it is catalyticallyoxidized to sulfur trioxide (SO3):(2)2SO2O2→2SO3