Nitric Acid Properties and Uses
Nitric acid is an oxidising mineral acid with physical and chemical properties that make it one of the most useful inorganic minerals. Nitric acid is used in a wide range of industries the most common of which are the production of explosives, nitrogen fertilisers and dyestuffs.
Originally Nitric acid was produced via several routes, but in 1906 the first large scale production of Nitric acid using the Ostwald process came on stream and since then almost all nitric acid is manufactured by this route. The Ostwald process takes place in 3 main steps, the initial step being the oxidation of ammonia to produce nitrogen monoxide, the second the oxidation of the nitrogen monoxide to produce nitrogen dioxide or tetraoxide and finally the absorption of the nitrogen oxides in water to produce nitric acid.
Properties of Nitric Acid:
|Color||In liquid state: transparent to yellow
As gaseous oxides: transparent yellow or brown
|Odour||Sweet to pungent|
|Hazards||In liquid state: Rapidly attacks flesh and most organic matter
As gaseous oxides: anaesthetic to dangerously toxic
|Boiling Point of Constant (68% HNO3 at 78mmHg)||120.5oC|
|Density (68% HNO3 at 20oC)||1.41g/l|
|Heat Capacity at 20oC||26.24 cal /g mol|
|Heat of Fusion||2503 cal /g mol|
|Heat Vaporisation at 20oC||9426 cal /g mol|
Table extracted from -‘Nitric Acid and Fertilizer Nitrates’, fertilizer science and technology series – volume 4, edited by Cornelius Keleti.
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