Matter & Energy


Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Sulfuric Acid

Sulfuric Acid, corrosive, oily, colorless liquid, with a specific gravity of 1.85. It melts at 10.36° C (50.6° F), boils at 340° C (644° F), and is soluble in all proportions in water. When sulfuric acid is mixed with water, considerable heat is released. Unless the mixture is well stirred, the added water may be heated beyond its boiling point and the sudden formation of steam may blow the acid out of its container (see Acids and Bases). The concentrated acid destroys skin and flesh, and can cause blindness if it gets into the eyes. The best treatment is to flush away the acid with large amounts of water. Despite the dangers created by careless handling, sulfuric acid has been commercially important for many years. The early alchemists prepared it in large quantities by heating naturally occurring sulfates to a high temperature and dissolving in water the sulfur trioxide thus formed. About the 15th century a method was developed for obtaining the acid by distilling hydrated ferrous sulfate, or iron vitriol, with sand. In 1740 the acid was produced successfully on a commercial scale by burning sulfur and potassium nitrate in a ladle suspended in a large glass globe partially filled with water.

Sulfuric acid is a strong acid, that is, in aqueous solution it is largely changed to hydrogen ions (H+) and sulfate ions. Each molecule gives two H+ ions, thus sulfuric acid is dibasic. Dilute solutions of sulfuric acid show all the behavior characteristics of acids. They taste sour, conduct electricity, neutralize alkalies, and corrode active metals with formation of hydrogen gas. From sulfuric acid one can prepare both normal salts containing the sulfate group and acid salts containing the hydrogen sulfate group.