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Industrial Applications of Le Chatelier's Principle

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Matt Dietz

on 9 December 2013

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Transcript of Industrial Applications of Le Chatelier's Principle

Industrial Applications of Le Chatelier's Principle
By: Matt Dietz

Production of NH3 (Ammonia)
using the Haber Process
What is Ammonia?
Ammonia is a colorless gas compound of Hydrogen and Nitrogen.
---In nature, Ammonia is a critical part of the nitrogen cycle which enhances the soil and supports life around it.
---In industry, Ammonia is primarily produced and used as fertilizer in the agricultural sector where it helps provide Nitrogen to crops to grow. Other uses of Ammonia can be found cleaning supplies and the manufacture of plastics.
Production of H2SO4 (Sulfuric Acid)
Like Ammonia, Sulfuric Acid is commonly used in many different industries. This ranges from fertilizer to purifying petroleum to the manufacture of chemicals and even in processing metals.
The US alone produces in excess of 40 million tonnes of sulfuric acid on a yearly basis.
The chemical reaction that produces Sulfuric Acid has several steps but the final reaction is:
H2S2O7 + H2O <=> 2H2SO4
Production of C2H5OH (Ethanol)
Ethanol, C2H5OH, is a colorless liquid, most commonly used as an automotive fuel and as an alcoholic beverage. A variety of vehicles and their engines either can run on pure ethanol or on a mixture of gasoline and ethanol. Ethanol is also used in explosives, paint, and nail polish removal.
Due to its variety of uses, the US produces about 13.3 Billion gallons of ethanol each year.
While it can be made multiple ways, the chemical reaction for making ethanol in the bio-fuel sector can be stated: C2H4 + H2O → CH3CH2OH.
Facts About the Chemical
US Yearly Production of Ammonia:
13.4 Million Tonnes (1 Tonne = 1000 Kg)
The Chemical Reaction of Ammonia:
N2 + 3H2 <=> 2NH3
The Natural Process of Ammonia:
Mostly found in decomposition in soil, a very slow process, giving a very low yield.
The Haber Process
The Haber Process is the most common industry method for producing Ammonia today.
The Process first overloads the reactants with a surplus of Nitrogen at a high pressure and high temperature to shift the equilibrium towards the product, Ammonia.
After this has happened, the reactants pass across multiple "beds" of catalyst and are cooled in-between each "bed". With each pass over a "bed" there will be about a 15% yield, with an overall yield of 97%.
Use of Le Chatelier's Principle
In Industry, different manipulations are made on the system as they attempt to produce a high yield using the principles stated by Le Chatelier.
First the pressure is increased from 1 atm to 200-250 atm. Secondly, in order to introduce a catalyst, the temperature is increased to over 400 degrees Celsius. And finally with the use of the catalyst, all these changes together help drive the equilibrium balance to the right, giving an overall yield of 97%.
Sulfuric Acid is rarely found in nature as it is the product of sulfur trioxide, emitted usually through volcanic eruptions, being mixed with rainwater, H20. This form has a very low yield and is dependent on contact with water, giving it a widespread reaction time.
In industry, sulfuric acid is manufactured through the Contact Process.
The Contact Process makes sulfur dioxide, which is then used to make sulfur trioxide, which is a main reactant in making Sulfuric Acid.
Sulfuric Acid in Nature and Industry
Sulfur dioxide is first produced by burning sulfur in excess amounts of air to get S02. In order to make sulfur trioxide, SO2 is again combined with excess oxygen except at a temperature of 400-450 degrees Celcius and slightly above normal temperate between 1 and 2 atm. A cataylst V2O5 is added in finally, which gives us sulfur trioxide, SO3.
SO3 is then reacted with existing concentrated sulfuric acid to make a low concentration sulfuric acid in H2S2O7. Finally this is added with water, H2O, to make industry standard concentrated sulfuric acid, H2SO4.
The Contact Process
As stated in the previous slides, certain aspects of Le Chatelier's Principle are used in the manufacturing of Sulfuric Acid in order to increase the yield.
This is first shown in the process when making SO3; the reactants are heated to over 400 degrees Celsius to shift the equilibrium to the right along with the help of a catalyst and with a slight increase in pressure.
Then, by overloading the SO3 when reacted with concentrated sulfuric acid, the equilibrium again is shifted to the right to produce more "Oleum" or the low concentration of sulfuric acid. Finally, the Oleum is reacted with excess H2O to produce a higher yield of concentrated sulfuric acid.
The Contact Process and Le Chatelier's Principle
Without the Contact Process, it is almost impossible to obtain any sort of yield of Sulfuric Acid in nature.
After obtaining sulfur dioxide, SO2, it is then reacted with excess oxygen to make sulfur trioxide, SO3, at a 96% yield.
However, when going from sulfur trioxide to sulfuric acid, there is only about a 30% yield. While this is a lower percentage, the reaming reactants and any gasses are recycled and used up again later on.
Yield of the Contact Process
Ethanol in Nature
Being that Ethanol is a byproduct of yeast, it can be found commonly in nature in ripe fruit and other yeast habitats.
Ethanol in Industry and Le Chatelier's Principle
In industry today, ethanol is rather easy to make. First C2H4 is reacted with water, H20, to make C2H5OH, or ethanol, this process is called ethylene hydration. Phosphoric acid is added in as a catalyst and the reaction is done at a temperature of around 300 Degrees Celcius. Both the cataylst and the increased temperate help shift the equilibrium to the left to yield more of the product ethanol. Altogether, the yield of entire reaction is about 50 percent.
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