Physical Science Matric Revision: Chemical Industry

Chemical Systems: Chemical Industry


The study of the chemical industry is crucial for understanding the large-scale production of chemicals that people use daily. This knowledge extends to processes that convert raw materials into valuable products, impacting economies and societies.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand key industrial processes.
  • Learn how raw materials are transformed into products.
  • Recognize the environmental and economic impacts of the chemical industry.

Key Points

  1. Industrial Processes:
  2. Haber Process: Produces ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen.
  3. Contact Process: Produces sulfuric acid from sulfur dioxide.
  4. Chlor-Alkali Process: Produces chlorine, hydrogen, and sodium hydroxide from sodium chloride solution.

  5. Process Details:

  6. Haber Process:
    • Reaction: ( N_2 (g) + 3H_2 (g) \rightarrow 2NH_3 (g) )
    • Conditions: 500°C, 30-60 MPa, iron catalyst.
  7. Contact Process:
    • Step 1: Combustion of sulfur to form sulfur dioxide.
    • ( S (s) + O_2 (g) \rightarrow SO_2 (g) )
    • Step 2: Conversion of ( SO_2 ) to ( SO_3 ) using a vanadium(V) oxide catalyst.
    • ( 2SO_2 (g) + O_2 (g) \rightarrow 2SO_3 (g) )
    • Step 3: Absorption of ( SO_3 ) in sulfuric acid to form oleum.
    • ( SO_3 (g) + H_2SO_4 (l) \rightarrow H_2S_2O_7 (l) )
  8. Chlor-Alkali Process:

    • Electrolysis of brine (concentrated ( NaCl ) solution).
    • Products: Chlorine gas at the anode, hydrogen gas at the cathode, sodium hydroxide in solution.
    • Anode Reaction: ( 2Cl^- (aq) \rightarrow Cl_2 (g) + 2e^- )
    • Cathode Reaction: ( 2H_2O (l) + 2e^- \rightarrow H_2 (g) + 2OH^- (aq) )
  9. Raw Material Sources:

  10. Air, water, minerals (e.g. sodium chloride, sulfur), and fuels.

  11. Environmental Impacts:

  12. Pollution (gaseous emissions, waste products).
  13. Measures to reduce impact include waste management and cleaner production technologies.

Real-World Applications

Haber Process

Example: Production of fertilizers.
Problem Example: Calculate the amount of ( NH_3 ) produced from 10 mol of ( N_2 ).
[ N_2 (g) + 3H_2 (g) \rightarrow 2NH_3 (g) ]
[ \text{Moles of } NH_3 = 2 \times \left( \frac{10 \text{ mol of } N_2}{1} \right) = 20 \text{ mol of } NH_3 ]

Contact Process

Example: Manufacturing of sulfuric acid for use in detergents and batteries.
Problem Example: Given 64 g of ( SO_2 ) with an excess of ( O_2 ), calculate the mass of ( SO_3 ) formed.
[ 2SO_2 (g) + O_2 (g) \rightarrow 2SO_3 (g) ]
[ \text{Moles of } SO_2 = \frac{64 \text{ g}}{64 \text{ g/mol}} = 1 \text{ mol} ]
[ \text{Mass of } SO_3 = 1 \text{ mol} \times 80 \text{ g/mol} = 80 \text{ g} ]

Common Misconceptions and Errors

  1. Haber Process:
  2. Incorrectly assuming high temperature always increases yield. It actually favors the reverse reaction.
  3. Contact Process:
  4. Believing ( SO_3 ) can be directly dissolved in water to make sulfuric acid, which is highly exothermic and forms a fog.

Practice and Review


  1. Name the catalyst used in the Haber process.
  2. Answer: Iron.

  3. Write the balanced equation for the Contact Process step converting ( SO_2 ) to ( SO_3 ).

  4. Answer: ( 2SO_2 (g) + O_2 (g) \rightarrow 2SO_3 (g) )

  5. Define what happens at the cathode during the Chlor-Alkali process.

  6. Answer: Reduction of water to produce hydrogen gas and hydroxide ions.

Examination Tips

  • Focus on keywords like catalyst, conditions, and reactions.
  • Remember the environmental impact and mitigation strategies.

Connections and Extensions

  • Interdisciplinary Links:
  • Environmental studies: Understanding the impact of industrial processes on pollution and climate change.
  • Economics: Analyzing the economic benefits and costs of large-scale chemical production.

  • Real-World Implications:

  • Balancing industrial benefits with environmental sustainability.

Summary and Quick Review

  • Summary:
  • Key industrial processes: Haber, Contact, and Chlor-Alkali.
  • Production conditions and catalysts.
  • Environmental impacts and measures to mitigate them.

  • Quick Review:

  • Haber Process: Produces ammonia; conditions: iron catalyst, 500°C.
  • Contact Process: Produces sulfuric acid; step conversion of ( SO_2 ) to ( SO_3 ).
  • Chlor-Alkali Process: Produces chlorine, hydrogen, and sodium hydroxide.

Additional Resources

These resources provide further videos and articles for a deeper understanding of industrial chemistry applications.

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