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Sulfonic Acid

Last updated: April 29, 2020

What Does Sulfonic Acid Mean?

Sulfonic acid, with the formula RS(=O)2-OH, is a group of organosulfur compounds where:

  • R = Organic aryl or alkyl group
    S(=O)2-OH = Sulfonyl hydroxide group

Sulfonic acid can be mistaken for sulfuric acid, as only one group of hydroxyl is replaced by an organic substituent. But this is actually produced through sulfonation with the use of an agent called sulfur trioxide. Sulfonic acid is a very strong acid and may produce strong corrosive effects. Thus, preventing exposure and accurate handling must be performed in order to prevent corrosion and other forms of damage.


Corrosionpedia Explains Sulfonic Acid

Sulfonic acids are extremely strong acids. In fact, they are a million times more acidic than other kinds of acids such as acetic acid and benzoic acid. This acid is non-oxidizing, colorless, soluble with water and may have detergent-like characteristics. It is highly used in the chemical industries, but since it is highly acidic, standard measures must be observed in terms of handling, storage and exposure to this material.

When tubes and piping are exposed, the materials used must be resistant enough to the corrosive effects of sulfonic acids.

Moreover, it is also capable of causing eye, skin and lung irritation as well as burns in extreme cases. Thus, occupational exposure limits should be implemented for safe industrial practices.

Industries that make use of sulfonic acid should have enclosed operations with the use of local ventilation or exhaust to release the chemicals. If this is not possible, respirators should be worn and warning information should be posted at the work area to communicate all the safety and health hazards about this corrosive element.


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