Chemistry essay on acid rain

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  1. Essay on Acid Rain: Definition, Causes, Adverse Effects and Control
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The two primary sources of acid rain are sulfur dioxide SO2 , and oxides of nitrogen NOx. Sulfur dioxide is a colourless, prudent gas released as a by-product of combusted fossil fuels containing sulfur. A variety of industrial processes, such as the production of iron and steel, utility factories, and crude oil processing produce this gas.

In iron and steel production, the smelting of metal sulfate ore, produces pure metal.

This causes the release of sulfur dioxide. Metals such as zinc, nickel, and copper are commonly obtained by this process. Sulfur dioxide can also be emitted into the atmosphere by natural disasters or means. This ten percent of all sulfur dioxide emission comes from volcanoes, sea spray, plankton, and rotting vegetation. Overall, Only 3. The other chemical that is also chiefly responsible for the make-up of acid rain is nitrogen oxide.

Essay on Acid Rain: Definition, Causes, Adverse Effects and Control

Oxides of nitrogen is a term used to describe any compound of nitrogen with any amount of oxygen atoms. Nitrogen monoxide and nitrogen dioxide are all oxides of nitrogen. These gases are by-products of firing processes of extreme high temperatures automobiles, utility plants , and in chemical industries fertilizer production. Natural processes such as bacterial action in soil, forest fires, volcanic action, and lightning make up five percent of nitrogen oxide emission.

Transportation makes up 43 percent, and 32 percent belongs to industrial combustion.

Long and Short Essay on Acid Rain in English

Nitrogen oxide is a dangerous gas by itself. This gas attacks the membranes of the respiratory organs and increases the likelihood of respiratory illness. It also contributes to ozone damage, and forms smog. Nitrogen oxide can spread far from the location it was originated by acid rain. As mentioned before, any precipitation with a pH level less than 5. The difference between regular precipitation and acid precipitation is the pH level.

A pH scale is used to determine if a specific solution is acidic or basic. Any number below seven is considered to be acidic. Any number above seven is considered to be basic. The scale is color coordinated with the pH level.

Acid Rain

Most pH scales use a range from zero to fourteen. Seven is the neutral point pure water. A pH from 6. Between these numbers, organisms are in very little or no harm. Not only does the acidity of acid precipitation depend on emission levels, but also on the chemical mixtures in which sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides interact in the atmosphere. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides go through several complex steps of chemical reactions before they become the acids found in acid rain.

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The steps are broken down into two phases, gas phase and aqueous phase. There are various potential reactions that can contribute to the oxidation of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere each having varying degrees of success.


One possibility is photooxidation of sulfuric dioxide by means of ultraviolet light. This process uses light form the of electromagnetic spectrum. This causes the loss of by two oxygen atoms. This reaction was found to be an insignificant contributor to the formation of sulfuric acid. A second and more common process is when sulfur dioxide reacts with moisture found in the atmosphere.

When this happens, sulfate dioxide immediately oxidizes to form a sulfite ion. This reaction occurs quickly, therefore the formation of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere is assumed to lead this type of oxidation to become sulfuric acid. Reaction example 1 photooxidation , is slow due to the absence of a catalyst, proving why it is not a significant contributor. Another common reaction for sulfur dioxide to becomes sulfuric acid is by oxidation by ozone. This reaction occurs at a preferable rate and is sometimes the main contributor to the oxidation of sulfuric acid.

This, hydroxy radical is produced by the photodecomposition of the ozone and is very highly reactive with any species type of chemical compounds. It does not require a catalyst and it is approximately times more abundant in the atmosphere than molecular oxygen. Other insignificant reactions include oxidation by product of alkene-zone reactions, oxidation by reaction of NxOy species, oxidation by reactive oxygen transients, and oxidation by peroxy radicals.

These reactions unfortunately prove to be insignificant for various reasons.

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All the reactions mentioned so far, are gas phase reactions. The oxidation process of aqueous sulfur dioxide by molecular oxygen relies on metal catalyst such as iron and manganese. This reaction is unlike other oxidation process, which occurs by hydrogen peroxide. It requires an additional formation of an intermediate A- , for example peroxymonosulfurous acid ion.

This formation is shown below. Sulfur dioxide oxidation is most common in clouds and especially in heavily polluted air where compounds such as ammonia and ozone are in abundance. These catalysts help convert more sulfur dioxide into sulfuric acid.

Acid Rain Essay

But not all of the sulfur dioxide is converted to sulfuric acid. In fact, a substantial amount can float up into the atmosphere, transport to another area and return to earth unconverted. Like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides rise into the atmosphere and are oxidized in clouds to form nitric or nitrous acid. These reactions are catalyzed in heavily polluted clouds where traces of iron, manganese, ammonia, and hydrogen peroxide are present. Nitrogen oxides rise into the atmosphere mainly from automobile exhaust. In the atmosphere it reacts with water to form nitric or nitrous acid.

In the aqueous phase there are three equilibria to keep in mind for the oxidation of nitrogen oxide. These reactions are limited by the partial pressures of nitrogen oxides present in the atmosphere, and the low solubility of nitrogen oxides, increase in reaction rate occurs only with the use of a metal catalyst, similar to those used in the aqueous oxidation of sulfur dioxide.

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Over the years, scientists have noticed that some forests have been growing more and more slowly without reason. Trees do not grow as fast as they did before. Leaves and pines needles turn brown and fall off when they are supposed to be green. Eventually, after several years of collecting and recording information on the chemistry and biology of the forest, researchers have concluded that this was the work of acid rain.

A rainstorm occurs in a forest. The summer spring washes the leaves of the branches and fall to the forest floor below. Some of the water is absorbed into the soil. Water run-off enters nearby streams, rivers, or lakes. They can be discussed as follows:. The major causes of acid rain are Natural and Human-Instigated causes. However, Acid Rain is basically caused due to the combustion of fossil fuels which results in emissions of sulphur dioxide SO 2 and nitrogen oxide NO 2 in the atmosphere.

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