Acid Reign: Sulfuric acid and oleum production.

Sulphuric acid is the most widely produced compound in the chemical industry. 200 million tonnes of sulphuric acid are produced globally each year, which is more than any other manufactured chemical. It plays an integral role in the production of nearly all manufactured goods, including fertilizers, synthetic detergents, dyes and pigments, explosives, and drugs. 60% of the sulfuric acid production around the world is used for the production of phosphoric acid. Phosphoric acid is further used to manufacture phosphate fertilizers and trisodium phosphate.

Alkylation units in oil refining processes also use sulfuric acid to produce high-octane components for gasoline blending. Since sulphuric acid is a relatively dangerous and expensive chemical to transport, most industries prefer to ship sulphur to site and produce their own sulphuric acid. While the capital cost may be higher, the long term economic and safety benefits make sulphuric acid plants attractive to industrial operations.

Process Flow Diagram

Raw Materials

We need sulfuric acid to produce sulfuric acid. Our raw materials are oxygen, sulfur and dilute sulfuric acid.

Burning Sulphur

First, sulfur reacts with oxygen in a furnace to produce sulfuric dioxide, SO2.

Catalytic Converter

SO2 is then converted to sulfur trioxide, SO3 in a converter bed using a vanadium pentoxide catalyst.

Adsorption Process

SO3 is absorbed into weak sulfuric acid to form 98.5% concentrated sulfuric acid.


The final concentrated sulfuric acid product is stored in a storage tank and ready for distribution.

Team Members


Project Awards

Sixth International Conference on Gas Hydrates (ICGH) Award

For best process design and capstone project

Applied Science Dean's Award

In recognition of the excellence of the recipient's work within the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Applied Science

Colin Oloman People's Choice Poster Award

Voted best project poster by faculty and peers