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The Solvay process or ammonia-soda process is the major industrial process for the production of sodium carbonate (soda ash, Na2CO3). The ammonia-soda process was developed into its modern form by the Belgian chemist Ernest Solvay during the 1860s. The ingredients for this are readily available and inexpensive: salt brine (from inland sources or from the sea) and limestone (from quarries). The worldwide production of soda ash in 2005 was estimated at 42 million tonnes, which is more than six kilograms (13 lb) per year for each person on Earth. Solvay-based chemical plants now produce roughly three-quarters of this supply, with the remaining being mined from natural deposits. This method superseded the Leblanc process.
1 History 2 Chemistry
3 Byproducts and wastes
4 Carbon sequestration and the Solvay process
5 See also 6 References 7 Further reading 8 External links
See also: alkali, potash, soda ash, Leblanc process, and trona
The name "soda ash" is based on the principal historical method of obtaining alkali, which was by using water to extract it from the ashes of certain plants. Wood fires yielded potash and its predominant ingredient potassium carbonate (K2CO3), whereas the ashes from these special plants yielded "soda ash" and its predominant ingredient sodium carbonate (Na2CO3). The word "soda" (from the Middle Latin) originally referred to certain plants that grow in salt solubles; it was discovered that the ashes of these plants yielded the useful alkali soda ash. The cultivation of such plants reached a particularly high state of development in the 18th century in Spain, where the plants are named ; the English word is "barilla". The ashes of kelp also yield soda ash, and were the basis of an enormous 18th century industry in Scotland. Alkali was also mined from dry lakebeds in Egypt.
By the late 18th century these sources were insufficient to meet Europe's burgeoning demand for alkali for soap, textile, and glass industries. In 1791, the French physician Nicolas Leblanc developed a method to manufacture soda ash using salt, limestone, sulfuric acid, and coal. Although the Leblanc process came to dominate alkali production in the early 19th century, the expense of its inputs and its polluting byproducts (including hydrogen chloride gas) made it apparent that it was far from an ideal solution.
It has been reported that in 1811 French physicist Augustin Jean Fresnel discovered that sodium bicarbonate precipitates when carbon dioxide is bubbled through ammonia-containing brines – which is the chemical reaction central to the Solvay process. The discovery wasn't published. As has been noted by Desmond Reilly, "The story of the evolution of the ammonium-soda process is an interesting example of the way in which a discovery can be made and then laid aside and not applied for a considerable time afterwards." Serious consideration of this reaction as the basis of an industrial process dates from the British patent issued in 1834 to H. G. Dyar and J. Hemming. There were several attempts to reduce this reaction to industrial practice, with varying success.
In 1861, Belgian industrial chemist Ernest Solvay turned his attention to the problem; he was apparently largely unaware of the extensive earlier work. His solution, a 24 metres (79 ft) gas absorption tower in which carbon dioxide bubbled up through a descending flow of brine. This, together with efficient recovery and recycling of the ammonia, proved effective. By 1864 Solvay and his brother Alfred had acquired financial backing and constructed a plant in Couillet, today a suburb of the Belgian town of Charleroi. The new process proved more economical and less polluting than the Leblanc method, and its use spread. In 1874, the Solvays expanded their facilities with a new, larger plant at Nancy, France.
In the same year, Ludwig Mond visited Solvay in Belgium and acquired rights to use the new technology. He and John Brunner formed the firm of Brunner, Mond & Co., and built a Solvay plant at Winnington, near Northwich, Cheshire, England. The facility began operating in 1874. Mond was instrumental in making the Solvay process a commercial success. He made several refinements between 1873 and 1880 that removed byproducts that could slow or halt the process.
In 1884, the Solvay brothers licensed Americans William B. Cogswell and Rowland Hazard to produce soda ash in the US, and formed a joint venture (Solvay Process Company) to build and operate a plant in Solvay, New York.
Solvay Process Plant in Solvay, New York; the Erie Canal passed through this plant until about 1917. From the Solvay Process collection of the Solvay, New York, Public Library.
By the 1890s, Solvay-process plants produced the majority of the world's soda ash.
In 1938 large deposits of the mineral trona were discovered near the Green River in Wyoming from which sodium carbonate can be extracted more cheaply than produced by the process. With the closing of the original Solvay, New York plant in 1986, there is currently a Solvay plant in operation in the city of Longview, Washington. It supplies the areas paper mills. Throughout the rest of the world the Solvay process remains the major source of soda ash.
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ammonia-soda process, also called Solvay Process, modern method of manufacturing the industrial alkali sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash. The process was devised and first put to commercial use by Ernest Solvay, who built a plant in 1865 in Couillet, Belg., and was improved in the 1870s by the German-born British chemist Ludwig Mond. In the ammonia-soda process, common salt, sodium chloride, is treated with ammonia and then carbon dioxide, under carefully controlled conditions, to form sodium bicarbonate and ammonium chloride. When heated, the bicarbonate yields sodium carbonate, the desired product; the ammonium chloride is treated with lime to
Alternate titles: Solvay process
By The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Article History
Key People: Ernest Solvay Ludwig Mond
Related Topics: chemical product
See all related content →ammonia-soda process, also called Solvay Process, modern method of manufacturing the industrial alkali sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash. The process was devised and first put to commercial use by Ernest Solvay, who built a plant in 1865 in Couillet, Belg., and was improved in the 1870s by the German-born British chemist Ludwig Mond.
In the ammonia-soda process, common salt, sodium chloride, is treated with ammonia and then carbon dioxide, under carefully controlled conditions, to form sodium bicarbonate and ammonium chloride. When heated, the bicarbonate yields sodium carbonate, the desired product; the ammonium chloride is treated with lime to produce ammonia for reuse and calcium chloride.
For some years after its introduction, the ammonia-soda process encountered stiff competition from the older Leblanc process, but it ultimately prevailed because it produced soda ash more cheaply.
Alternate titles: kerosine, paraffin, paraffin oil
By The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Article History
kerosene See all media
Related Topics: chemical product fuel
See all related content →kerosene, also spelled kerosine, also called paraffin or paraffin oil, flammable hydrocarbon liquid commonly used as a fuel. Kerosene is typically pale yellow or colourless and has a not-unpleasant characteristic odour. It is obtained from petroleum and is used for burning in kerosene lamps and domestic heaters or furnaces, as a fuel or fuel component for jet engines, and as a solvent for greases and insecticides.
Discovered by Canadian physician Abraham Gesner in the late 1840s, kerosene was initially manufactured from coal tar and shale oils. However, following the drilling of the first oil well in Pennsylvania by E.L. Drake in 1859, petroleum quickly became the major source of kerosene. Because of its use in lamps, kerosene was the major refinery product for several decades until the advent of the electric lamp reduced its value for lighting. Production further declined as the rise of the automobile established gasoline as an important petroleum product. Nevertheless, in many parts of the world, kerosene is still a common heating and cooking fuel as well as a fuel for lamps. Standard commercial jet fuel is essentially a high-quality straight-run kerosene, and many military jet fuels are blends based on kerosene.
More From Britannica petroleum refining: Kerosene
Chemically, kerosene is a mixture of hydrocarbons. The chemical composition depends on its source, but it usually consists of about 10 different hydrocarbons, each containing 10 to 16 carbon atoms per molecule. The main constituents are saturated straight-chain and branched-chain paraffins, as well as ring-shaped cycloparaffins (also known as naphthenes). Kerosene is less volatile than gasoline. Its flash point (the temperature at which it will generate a flammable vapour near its surface) is 38 °C (100 °F) or higher, whereas that of gasoline is as low as −40 °C (−40 °F). This property makes kerosene a relatively safe fuel to store and handle.
With a boiling point between about 150 and 300 °C (300–575 °F), kerosene is considered to be one of the so-called middle distillates of crude oil, along with diesel fuel. It can be produced as “straight-run kerosene,” separated physically from the other crude oil fractions by distillation, or it can be produced as “cracked kerosene,” by chemically decomposing, or cracking, heavier portions of the oil at elevated temperatures.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
This article was most recently revised and updated by Erik Gregersen.
By The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Article History
Related Topics: painting pigment luminous paint japan colour latex paint
See all related content →paint, decorative and protective coating commonly applied to rigid surfaces as a liquid consisting of a pigment suspended in a vehicle, or binder. The vehicle, usually a resin dissolved in a solvent, dries to a tough film, binding the pigment to the surface.
Paint was used for pictorial and decorative purposes in the caves of France and Spain as early as 15,000 BC. The earliest pigments, which were natural ores such as iron oxide, were supplemented by 6000 BC in China by calcined (fired) mixtures of inorganic compounds and organic pigments; vehicles were prepared from gum arabic, egg white, gelatin, and beeswax. By 1500 BC the Egyptians were using dyes such as indigo and madder to make blue and red pigments. The exploitation of linseed oil (a drying oil useful as a vehicle) and zinc oxide (a white pigment) in the 18th century brought a rapid expansion of the European paint industry. The 20th century saw important developments in paint technology, including the introduction of synthetic polymers as vehicles and of synthetic pigments; a new understanding of the chemistry and physics of paints; and coating materials with greater fire retardancy, corrosion resistance, and heat stability. Most significant was a return to water-based paints in the form of latex paints that combine easy application and cleanup with reduced hazard of fire.