Sulfuric Acid Essay, Research Paper
Acids & Bases
An acid is any compound that can respond to a base to form a salt. Also, it is a substance that generates the positive ion of the solvent where the acid is dissolved. A base is the opposite of an acid. It is a substance that eliminates the hydrogen ions (protons) from an acid and joins them through a chemical reaction.
Sulfuric acid is an extremely strong acid. Concentrated sulfuric acid is a strong dehydrating agent, which reacts violently with water. In aqueous solutions it ionizes to create hydrogen sulfate ions and hydronium ions. In diluted solutions of this acid the hydrogen sulfate ions also separate, in turn forming even more hydronium ions and some sulfate ions. Besides being an oxidizing agent by reacting swiftly at high temperatures with carbon, sulfur, many metals, and other substances, concentrated sulfuric acid can also be used as a strong dehydrating agent. As a dehydrating agent, it has the ability to char many organic materials. Take, for example, wood, sugar, paper, and when this occurs a carbonaceous residue is left behind.
Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is also known as oil of vitriol, or hydrogen sulfate. It is a dense, colorless, oily, corrosive liquid. It can be used in the manufacturing of dyes, drugs, fertilizers, explosives, pigments, inorganic acids and salts. Sulfuric acid is also used in metallurgical processes and oil refining. In one of its most familiar functions, sulfuric acid operates as the electrolyte in lead-acid storage batteries.
The most common and well-known use for sulfuric acid is in a car battery. For example, in a single cell lead-acid battery, there are two different plates. One plate is of lead and the other is lead dioxide. These plates are submerged in a powerful sulfuric acid electrolyte. The lead reacts with the SO4 to generated PbSO4 with one electron. The lead dioxide, hydrogen atoms, the sulfuric acid ions, and the electrons from the lead plate lead sulfate (PbSO4) and water on the lead dioxide plate. Both of the plates build up lead sulfate and water develops in the acid. The voltage per cell is about 2 volts. So, if you were to combine 6 cells you would get a 12-volt battery. The best part about this battery is that the reaction is reversible when the right amount of voltage is applied to the battery. A lead-acid battery has a life of approximately 4 years, but recently they have made them with life of 50 to 70 years, which have been developed for special applications.
Courtesy of http://www.interstatebatteries.com/
Marshall, Brian, How batteries work.
http://www.hotstuffworks.com/ April 25, 2000
Dr. Darkmatter, Sulfuric Acid
http://zebu.uoregon.edu/ js/glossary/sulfuric_acid.html/ February 1, 2001