Industrial Fire Familiarization: The Highs and Lows of the pH World
While many different ingredients and chemicals are used in the processing industry, there are a certain few standout materials that seem to be a recurring danger. Whether it be 0, or a 14, the extremes of the pH world are shall not be underestimated when it comes to an emergency. Today, we will profile some of the more predominant acids and bases in the refining world today.
NaOH, also known as “Lye” in its solid form resembles that of white pellets or beads. While having a pH of 14, its solid form does present less handling hazards and issues than its solution form or “Soda”. NaOH when in its solution form with water, creates a liquid caustic also with elevated pH readings. Caustic soda is used for many different process related instances including pulp and paper manufacturing, soaps, detergents, and drain cleaners. (More info here!)
Sulfuric acid in its physical state is a liquid unlike NaOH. With a specific gravity of ~1.84, the acid can be thick, almost oily looking at times. The acid, in some cases, can play a vital role in gasoline manufacture by making the process of Alkylation possible. Sulfuric acid can be manufactured in a few different ways, however in most cases the process begins with burning sulfur, and the liberated Sulfur Dioxide gas. (More here!)
HF is widely known in the HAZMAT and industrial communities for not only its corrosive attributes, but also its toxic effects. As an aqueous solution, its dangers are mostly limited to contact based injuries. As like other corrosive materials, severe burns and tissue damage are a common injury associated with contact. Some studies suggest that along with a moderate skin exposure to HF, hypocalcemia can develop, leading to cardiac arrest in some cases. HF can also be used in the Alkylation refining process, depending upon what the specific unit is designed for, and this seems to be the more modern trend for refining. (More!)
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