Industrial Revolution: Sulphuric Acid

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Sulphuric acid
One of the most important chemicals used in the industrial revolution was sulphuric acid (H2SO4), as it had many different uses in textile and metallurgical industries. Due to its importance, it was in high demand and the amount which could be produced was constantly trying to be improved.It was during this period that a scientist by the name of John Roebuck discovered that this chemical could be produced at a much larger scale than once thought. He did this by making small changes to the production method.
Up until now the chemical had been produced in glass bottles by reacting sulfur with potassium nitrate, or saltpeter as it was more commonly known, with steam. The potassium nitrate acted as an oxidizing agent, oxidizing
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A chemist, Nicolas Leblanc began producing sodium carbonate using salt, suphuric acid, limestone and coal.
Prior to this process, known as ' The Leblanc Process' the main source of sodium carbonate was Natron, which is a naturally occurring mix of sodium carbonate decahydrate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate and sodium sulfate,from Egypt, however this was very expensive to import, and therefore the whole process was very costly.
The Leblanc process greatly reduced the production costs with the use of the chalky substance, limestone. This was both inexpensive and much more readily available.
Although this chemical process made improvements to the industry, its products were a huge source of air pollution to the surrounding areas, in particular, the hydrochloric acid produced in the reaction caused major air pollution.
There was much controversy over the pollution caused by the process and it was partly this reason why the leblanc process became obsolete when a new method was found by the Belgian chemist, Ernest Solvay.(bad
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The chemicals used in the textile, glass, medicine and many other industies meant that products could be manufactured on a much larger scale, greater than ever before thought possible.Not only was the scale much bigger, the materials were less expensive, this meant that the public had access to products once much too expensive to purchase, different coloured clothing for example, and medicines.
There was however one major downside to the use of these chemicals on such a large scale, pollution. This was a huge problem in the mid nineteenth century, especially in densely populated cities.The air pollution generated by the Leblanc process began to concern many of the people who had to live in the presence of the big industrial factories responsible for emitting the unwanted fumes. According to one of the most important figures in the chemical industry during the industrial revolution James Muspratt, the fumes given off from the process were so dense that the visibility in the area was less than ninety meters.[Reference, lecture
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