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Properties of Acids
1. Aqueous solutions have a sour taste
2. Some acids react with active metals to release hydrogen:
Zn(s) + H2SO4(aq) ZnSO4(aq) + H2(g)
3. Acids react with bases to produce salts and water:
HCl(aq) + NaOH(aq) NaCl(aq) + H2O(l)
4. Acids conduct electric current
5. Acids change the color of acid-base indicators:
Blue litmus turns red
Methyl orange turns red
6. Have a pH of less than 7
7. Donate protons, H+
8. React with carbonates
9. Neutralize bases

Some common industrial acids:

Sulfuric Acid(Oil of Vitriol)
- Highest volume production of any chemical in the U.S.
- Used in the production of paper, fertilizers, petroleum refining & car
Nitric Acid(aqua fortis/spirit of niter)
- Used in the production of rubber, plastics, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers &
- Nitric acid is a volatile acid its reactive components evaporate easily.
Hydrochloric Acid
- Used in the pickling of steel
- Used to purify magnesium from sea water
- Used to correct swimming pool pH
- Part of gastric juice, it aids in the digestion of protein
- Sold commercially as Muriatic acid
Phosphoric Acid
- A flavoring agent in sodas
- Used in the manufacture of detergents & fertilizers
- Not a common laboratory reagent
Acetic Acid
- Concentrated glacial acetic acid used in the manufacture of plastics
- Used in making pharmaceuticals
- Acetic acid is the acid present in vinegar
Manufacturing process of common acids
I. Sulfuric Acid
- Sulfuric acid is produced by catalytic oxidation of sulfur dioxide to sulfur
trioxide, which is subsequently absorbed in water to form sulfuric acid. In
practice the sulfur trioxide is absorbed in sulfuric acid which is kept at a
controlled concentration (usually 98%) by the addition of water.
- The two most common methods for the conversion of sulfur dioxide to
sulfuric acid are
1. Lead Chamber Process:
This is an old process and was introduced in Europe in near the middle
of 18th century. This method uses nitrogen oxides as oxygen carrying
catalysts for the conversion of sulfur dioxide to sulfur trioxide. The reactions
which produce the sulfur trioxide and sulfuric acid take place within the huge
lead chambers or in packed towers which may be substituted for the
chambers. Chambers process produced acid of concentration less than 80
%.The major disadvantage includes the limitations in throughput, quality and
concentration of the acid produced. All known new plants uses the Contact
process although some older Chamber process plants may still be in use.
2. Contact Process:
In the contact process, the sulfur dioxide is converted to sulfur trioxide
by the use of metal oxide catalyst. Platinum was once widely used as catalyst
but because of its excessive first cost and susceptibility to poisoning, it has
been largely replaced by vanadium oxide. The vanadium pentaoxide is
dispersed on a porous carrier in a pellet form. The characteristics of the
catalyst which can be used are mentioned as follows:
a. Porous carrier having large surface area, controlled pore size and
resistance to process gases at high temperature; in pellet form if used in
fixed bed and powdered form if used for fluidized bed. Ex- Alumina, silica
gel, zeolites.
b. Active catalytic agent: Vanadium pentaoxide in this case. Preparations are
generally kept secret for the competitive reasons but they usually consist
of adding water soluble compounds to gels or porous substrates and
firing at temperature below the sintering point.
c. Promoter: Alkali and/or metallic compounds added in trace amounts to
enhance the activity of the catalytic agent.

II. Nitric Acid

The Ostwald process is a chemical process for making nitric acid
(HNO3). Wilhelm Ostwald developed the process, and he patented it in 1902.
The Ostwald process is a mainstay of the modern chemical industry, and it
provides the main raw material for the most common type of fertilizer
production. Historically and practically, the Ostwald process is closely
associated with the Haber process, which provides the requisite raw material,
ammonia (NH3).
1. Ammonia is converted to nitric acid in 2 stages. It is oxidized by heating with
oxygen in the presence of a catalyst such as platinum with 10% rhodium, to
form nitric oxide and water. This step is strongly exothermic, making it a
useful heat source once initiated:
4 NH3 (g) + 5 O2 (g) 4 NO (g) + 6 H2O (g) (H = 905.2 kJ)
2. Stage two encompasses two reactions and is carried out in an absorption
apparatus containing water. Initially nitric oxide is oxidized again to yield
nitrogen oxide: This gas is then readily absorbed by the water, yielding the
desired product (nitric acid, albeit in a dilute form), while reducing a portion
of it back to nitric oxide:
2 NO (g) + O2 (g) 2 NO2 (g) (H = 114 kJ/mol)
3 NO2 (g) + H2O (l) 2 HNO3 (aq) + NO (g) (H = 117 kJ/mol)
The NO is recycled, and the acid is concentrated to the required strength by
3. Alternatively, if the last step is carried out in air:
4 NO2 (g) + O2 (g) + 2 H2O (l) 4 HNO3 (aq)
Typical conditions for the first stage, which contribute to an overall yield of
about 98%, are:
a. Pressure is between 4 and 10 standard atmospheres (410 and 1,000 kPa;
59 and 150 psi) and
b. Temperature is about 500 K (230 C; 440 F).


Properties of Bases:
1. Aqueous solutions of bases have a bitter taste
2. Bases change the color of acid-base indicators
Turns red litmus blue
Turns phenolphthalein magenta/purple
3. Dilute aqueous solutions of bases feel slippery
4. Bases react with acids to produce salts and water
5. Bases conduct electric current
6. Are proton, H+, acceptors
7. Have a pH value of greater than 7
8. Neutralize acids

Manufacturing Process common bases:

1. Ammonia
- The Haber Process combines nitrogen from the air with hydrogen derived
mainly from natural gas (methane) into ammonia. The reaction is reversible
and the production of ammonia is exothermic.

2. Sodium Hydroxide
- The chloralkali process (also chlor-alkali and chlor alkali) is an industrial
process for the electrolysis of NaCl. It is the technology used to produce
chlorine and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), which are commodity
chemicals required by industry.
- Three production methods used:
a. Membrane Cell
The most common chloralkali process involves the electrolysis of aqueous
sodium chloride (a brine) in a membrane cell. Saturated brine is passed
into the first chamber of the cell where the choride ions are oxidized at the
anode, losing electrons to become chlorine gas:
2Cl Cl2 + 2e-
At the cathode, positive hydrogen ions pulled from water molecules are
reduced by the electrons provided by the electrolytic current, to hydrogen
gas, releasing hydroxide ions into the solution: 2H2O + 2e
H2 + 2OH
The ion-permeable on exchange membrane at the center of the cell allows
the sodium ions (Na+) to pass to the second chamber where they react
with the hydroxide ions to produce caustic soda(NaOH). The overall
reaction for the electrolysis of brine is thus:
2NaCl + 2H2O Cl2 + H2 + 2NaOH
A membrane cell is used to prevent the reaction between the chlorine and
hydroxide ions. If this reaction were to occur the chlorine would be
disproportionated to form chloride and hypochlorite ions:
Cl2 + 2OH Cl + ClO + H2O
Above about 60 C, chlorate can be formed:
3Cl2 + 6OH 5Cl + ClO3 + 3H2O
Because of the corrosive nature of chlorine production, the anode (where
the chlorine is formed) must be made from a non-reactive metal such as
titanium, whereas the cathode (where hydroxide forms) can be made from
a more easily oxidized metal such as nickel.
b. Diaphragm Cell
In the diaphragm cell process, there are two compartments separated by
a permeable diaphragm, often made of asbestos fibers. Brine is
introduced into the anode compartment and flows into the cathode
compartment. Similarly to the Membrane Cell, chloride ions are oxidized
at the anode to produce chlorine, and at the cathode, water is split into
caustic soda and hydrogen. The diaphragm prevents the reaction of the
caustic soda with the chlorine. A diluted caustic brine leaves the cell. The
caustic soda must usually be concentrated to 50% and the salt removed.
This is done using an evaporative process with about three tonnes of
steam per tonne of caustic soda. The salt separated from the caustic brine
can be used to saturate diluted brine. The chlorine contains oxygen and
must often be purified by liquefaction and evaporation.
c. Mercury Cell
In the mercury-cell process, also known as the Castner-Kellner proess, a
saturated brine solution floats on top of a thin layer of mercury. The
mercury is the cathode, where sodium is produced and forms a sodium-
mercury amalgam with the mercury. The amalgam is continuously drawn
out of the cell and reacted with water which decomposes the amalgam
into sodium hydroxide, hydrogen and mercury. The mercury is recycled
into the electrolytic cell. Chlorine is produced at the anode and evaporates
out of the cell. Mercury cells are being phased out due to concerns about
mercury poisoning from mercury cell pollution.

Arrhenius Acid - A chemical compound that increases the concentration of

hydrogen ions, H+, in aqueous solution.
Arrhenius Base - A substance that increases the concentration of hydroxide ions,
OH-, in aqueous solution.

Strength of Acids
- Strong acids completely ionize in solution. (100%)
- Weak acids ionize only slightly and are weak electrolytes.(<5%)
Strength vs. Concentration
- Strength refers to ionization in solution.
- Concentration refers to the amount of solute in solution.
- It is possible to have a concentrated solution of a weak acid or base.
- It is also possible to have dilute solution of a strong acid or base.

Organic Acids
- Organic acids all contain the carboxyl group, sometimes several of them.

- The carboxyl group is a poor proton donor, so ALL organic acids are weak
- Examples of organic acids:
a. Citric acid in citrus fruit
b. Malic acid in sour apples
c. Deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA
d. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein
e. Lactic acid in sour milk and sore muscles
f. Butyric acid in rancid butter

Strength of bases
- Strength of ionic bases in related to solubility:
High solubility = strong base
Low solubility = weak base
- Molecular bases tend to be weak regardless of solubility.

Types of Acids
1. Monoprotic Acids can donate one H atom
Examples: HC2H3O2 ; HCl
2. Polyprotic Acids
a. Diprotic Acids can donate two H atoms
Example: H2SO4
b. Triprotic Acids can donate 3 H atoms
Example: H3C6H5O7 ; H3PO4
Lewis Acids and Bases
- Lewis Acid:
An atom, ion or molecule that accepts an electron pair to form a covalent
- Lewis Base:
An atom, ion or molecule that donates an electron pair to form a covalent
- Lewis Acid-Base Reaction:
The formation of one or more covalent bonds between an electron-pair donor
and electron-pair acceptor. This definition can be applied to phases other than
aqueous reactions.