Sulphuric acid

NIUIF Sulphuric Acid and Sulphur department was established in 1936 by the decision of heavy industry People’s Commissar Ordzhonikidze. The creation and development of the sulphuric acid department was led by prominent sulphuric acid scientists: K.M. Malin, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Stalin Prize Laureate, G.K. Boreskov, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, twice Stalin Prize Laureate, laureate of the state prize, Hero of Socialist Labor, A.G. Amelin, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor, Honored Member of Science and Technology of the RSFSR, twice Stalin Prize Laureate.

In the 30s, the main amount of sulphuric acid in the USSR was produced in tower (chamber) systems. At that time, the kinetics’ studies of all the main chamber process stages: denitration, acid formation, and absorption of nitrogen oxides were carried out by NIUIF scientists: K.M. Malin, N.I. Smyslov, Y.P. Bernatsky, S.D. Stupnikov, M.N. Vtorov, I.F. Cherepkov, V.S. Epifanov. The possibility of nitrogen oxides separation by sulphuric acid through their absorption-desorption was established. The vapor pressure over nitrogen and sulphuric acid mixture containing N2O3 and HNO3 was studied. NIUIF scientists research results allowed to improve and intensify the chamber sulphuric acid production process.   

The chamber process has a number of disadvantages, the main are low concentration and contamination of the resulting sulphuric acid, which prevented its use in a number of industries.

In this regard, by the end of the 30s and the beginning of the 40s, NIUIF scientists focused on the research and development of the catalytic method for producing of sulphuric acid, free from the chamber method disadvantages.

The first domestic K-39 converters with a 40 MTPD capacity, developed at NIUIF and designed by Giprokhim, were built and put into operation at the Voskresensky Chemical Plant.

In the 50s and 60s, NIUIF scientists carried out a large amount of work to create more advanced apparatuses of higher capacity, which then were used in all catalytic sulphuric acid systems. In these years, according to the NIUIF developments, higher capacity converters with 240 and 360 MTPD were already being built. Studies of the processes occurring in the wet-cleaning, drying-absorption and converter sections of catalytic systems have been conducted. In the same period, NIUIF scientists carried out research to obtain improved grades of sulphuric acid, methods for purifying off-gases from sulphur dioxide. Specialist who worked in this field: B.A. Chertkov, N.S. Dobromyslova, A.N. Ternovskaya, D.S. Elkind, Z.P. Rosenkop, M.M. Chernobaev, N.A. Vasilenko and others.

In the field of development of the sulphur dioxide catalytic oxidation process, NIUIF scientists, under the leadership of G.K. Boreskov (B.M. Maslennikov, V.V. Illarionov, A.G. Amelin, E.V. Herburt, T.I. Smirnova, V.P. Pligunov, F.F. Umyatina, D.F. Terentyev, G.I. Petrovskaya) conducted fundamental theoretical and experimental studies, which resulted in the creation of sulphur dioxide catalytic oxidation theory, as well as development of formulations and technologies for highly active sulphuric acid vanadium catalysts. They became the basis for improving the catalytic method and sulphuric acid catalysts production process.

Studies on the use of natural supports (diatomite), the selection of promoting additives, the determination of the optimal ratio of a support and active components in the catalyst, the development of the formulation and technology of the catalysts (V.M. Borisov, B.M. Maslennikov, V.V. Illarionov, G. I. Petrovskaya and others) were carried out. NIUIF has developed a technology and mastered the industrial production of a heat-resistant, highly active SVD catalyst on a natural support, which has been successfully used in catalytic sulphuric acid systems. Together with BIC SB RAS, UNICHIM, LTI, the following catalysts were developed: SHS, TS, IK-1-4, IK-1-6 using artificial supports, etc.

G.K. Boreskov developed a method for calculation of catalytic converters, determined the favorable temperature conditions and the reactants concentration of the catalytic process in the converter.

Over the period, from the creation of the sulphuric acid department, up to the present, NIUIF scientists continued and continue to improve the sulphuric acid technology in terms of increasing the capacity of sulphuric acid systems, improving equipment efficiency, increasing the concentration of the processed gas while reducing the content of harmful substances in off-gases. Over the past period, the processes of the catalytic method with the production of sulphuric acid by the DC-DA method, under pressure, using oxygen have been studied and developed, also a fundamentally new non-stationary method has been developed. On the basis of the non-stationary method, it was possible to develop a new sulphuric acid technology with low capital costs, which allows for the autothermal processing of low-concentrated sulphur dioxide gases into sulphuric acid. Methods for the disposal of waste sulphuric acid from various industries have been developed.

Continuing the traditions of sulphuric acid scientists, employees of the sulphuric acid department purposefully and fruitfully continue to work towards the future development of sulphuric acid technology. Among the main promising areas are:

  1. Increasing the unit capacity of sulphuric acid systems.
  2. Improving the energy efficiency of sulphuric acid systems.
  3. Reducing emissions of harmful substances with off-gases.
  4. Development of fundamentally new processes in sulphuric acid technology, creation of new material and energy-saving sulphuric acid systems.
  5. Development and creation of new high intensity equipment for sulphuric acid systems.

Recently, specialists of the sulphuric acid department have completed developments aimed at significantly increasing the unit capacity of existing sulphuric acid systems with the simultaneous introduction of new high intensity equipment in all process departments. From 2000 to the present, revamps of existing sulphuric acid systems with a 1.5-2.0-fold increase in their capacity have been developed and implemented, new sulphuric acid systems with 2700-3300 MTPD capacity have been designed and built. Among these, the latest significant NIUIF design and construction development at the JSC Apatit, Cherepovets - DC-DA sulphur based sulphuric acid system with the highest capacity (1.1 million MTPY) in Russia and Europe. This sulphuric acid system was successfully put into operation at the first quarter of 2020.

During revamp and construction of new sulphuric acid systems per NIUIF sulphuric acid department specialists designs, new more efficient apparatuses and equipment were introduced into the sulphuric acid technology, among which are a high-intensity waste heat boiler (RКS), developed jointly with the Russian power engineering enterprise , CJSC Belenergomash; development, design and construction of new lightweight type converters, installation of non-brick lined absorption towers made of special alloys, the use of high-intensity coolers manufactured per NIUIF design, the use of new blowers and acid pumps with improved characteristics.

The revamps of existing sulphuric acid systems and the construction of new high-capacity sulphuric acid plants, completed over the past 10 years by the sulphuric acid department, have significantly increased the production of sulphuric acid in the Russian Federation, increased energy efficiency and reliability of the technology, and reduced emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere with off-gases.