Knowledge for the Sulphuric Acid Industry
Sulphuric Acid on the Web
Acid Plant Database
Boiler Feed Water
Materials of Construction
DKL Engineering, Inc.
May 8, 2003
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the rapid advancement of industry gave rise to a fast growth in demand for sulphuric acid. The ‘lead chamber’ process was up to that point the main method of sulphuric acid production. Research was undertaken to develop a process whereby sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxygen (O2) are reacted together in the presence of a catalyst to form sulphur trioxide (SO3). The so-called ‘contact process’ came into initial use with platinum as the catalyst on which the conversion of SO2 to SO3 took place. Platinum catalysts are highly active but suffered from high costs and were easily poisoned by contaminants such as As2O3. In 1913, BASF patented a catalyst using vanadium pentoxide and alkali metal oxides on porous carriers containing silica. In 1915, a commercial scale plant began production of sulphuric acid using vanadium catalyst. This was the beginning of the modern contact process.
The contact section of a modern day acid plant comprises all the dry gas handling equipment including the blower, gas-to-gas heat exchangers, converter, ducting and stack.