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From sulfur dioxide to sulfuric acid.

From sulfur dioxide to sulfuric acid

The chemical paths leading from sulfur dioxide (SO2) molecules to sulfate (SO4=) ions, a key component of acid rain, are many and varied. One possible path is the oxidation of sulfur dioxide in cloud and fog water droplets. Although that reaction has been studied for nearly a century, its mechanism is still not completely understood. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley (Calif.) Laboratory have now identified a previously undetected intermediate chemical species that may play an important role in the formation of sulfate ions.

Reporting the Aug. 14 SCIENCE, S.G. Chang, D. Littlejohn and K.Y. Hu suggest that the reaction between bisulfite (HSO3-) ions and oxygen produces disulfate (S2O7=) ions, which then combine with water and decay into sulfate and hydrogen ions. Their conclusion is based on the spectroscopic study of a rapidly mixed flow system at a pressure high enough to ensure a sufficiently large dissolved oxygen concentration. That technique allows researchers to monitor all chemical species present during the reaction.
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Title Annotation:research on formation of acid rain
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 5, 1987
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