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sulfuric acid molecule

Sulfuric Acid

Also known as:

  • Oil of Vitriol
  • Hydrogen Sulfate
The Science

Why CPVC Works Well With Sulfuric Acid

High-quality CPVC like Corzan® CPVC has a high level of chlorine in the polymer chain. This protects the CPVC from the degrading effects of highly corrosive acids, like sulfuric acid, commonly used by industrial plants for everything from pH adjustment to the manufacture of other important industrial chemicals. Within safe operating temperatures, Corzan CPVC has excellent resistance to sulfuric acid due to its superior engineering and formulation.

CPVC resists material degradation and corrosion when conveying sulfuric acid far better than metals, but these still can occur over time. The severity of general degradation will be contingent on temperature, pressure, acid concentrations.   

Temperature & Concentration

Corzan CPVC's Resistance to Sulfuric Acid

CPVC quality is essential to the safe handling of sulfuric acid, especially as the heat and acid concentration rise. Most sulfuric acid is produced at between 93 and 98% concentration but can be diluted based on the application's need. Corzan CPVC’s superior compound and quality assurance make it the premier CPVC material, delivering excellent resistance to sulfuric acid in applications ranging from adhesives to fuel additives and pigments to plasticizers and process regulators*.

corzan cpvc chemical resistance to sulfuric acid chart

* Corzan® Material and Piping Solutions only partners with manufacturers with a proven track record of quality and reliability. These manufacturers are carefully chosen to convert Corzan CPVC into the high-performance piping systems, ducting, sheets and lining and more that customers rely on. Always confirm any planned application is in compliance with our partner’s design guidelines.

A pipe made from low-quality CPVC resin and compounding ingredients is far more susceptible to the degrading effects of sulfuric acid, sometimes lasting only a few months. 

Drawbacks of Other Materials

The Drawbacks of Other Materials Handling Sulfuric Acid

Sulfuric acid is among the most common chemicals that Corzan CPVC reliably handles in industrial applications. All materials will react to sulfuric acid according to concentration levels, temperatures, and pressures. But engineers choose Corzan CPVC for sulfuric acid due to its performance capabilities compared to metals and other plastics.

Carbon Steel: A protective layer of FeSO4 is immediately formed when carbon steel comes into contact with sulfuric acid, the preservation of that protective layer depends on the concentration, temperature and flow rate of the acid through the pipe. The corrosion rate of the FeSO4 protective layer will increase in pipes and storage tanks with higher temperatures than those will lower operating temperatures. The same can be said about pipelines with high flowrates as the agitation of the FeS04 layer is related to velocity. Although carbon steel can be used, it has been found to degrade quicker than plastics and thermoplastics.

Stainless Steel: Some stainless steels (like 316) are resistant to sulfuric acid at ambient temperatures but can become less resistant as temperatures increase.

PVC (Polyvinyl chloride): PVC may be suitable at low concentrations and temperature but will have a shorter service life than CPVC.

PTFE (Teflon) and PFA( perfluoroalkyl) : PTFE or other fluoropolymers like PFA are the only materials that can withstand all concentrations of sulfuric acid. But the material is prohibitively expensive and may also be under extra regulatory scrutiny due to their persistent nature.

Common Uses

Common Uses of Sulfuric Acid

  • Cleaning and etching of semiconductors and PCBs
  • pH level regulation in manufacturing processes for water treatment as well as food and pharmaceutical production
  • Fertilizers
  • Paper production
  • Leaching reagent in mineral processing operations
  • Electroplating
  • Rust and scale removal from steel 
  • Petrochemical refining
  • Lead-Acid batteries
  • Household cleaner formulation

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