Industrial uses of acids & bases

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Industrial uses of acids & bases
Acids and bases are used for many purposes in industry. (glass image by Mikhail Olykainen from Fotolia.com)

Acids and bases are an essential part of many industries. They are used to make fertiliser, cleaning supplies, in research, nuclear waste storage and countless other applications. When using these substances, care and safety must be first in mind.

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Acids

Sulphuric acid, the most widely used acid, is utilised in the iron and steel industry to remove rust from products such as cars before they are sold. Boric acid pools are used to store nuclear waste at power plants. Nitric acid is used to create fertilisers and dyes. Many other acids are used in making explosives.

Bases

Bases, one the most commonly produced of which is ammonia, are often found in cleaning agents. Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, is used for a wide variety of applications, from making paper to making soaps. Citric acid, like that found in oranges, can be used to soften water.

Safety

Both acids and bases can cause severe contact burns if applied directly to the skin. Contrary to popular belief, immediately running an affected area under water may not be the best solution. When working with a base or acid, be sure to know the proper safety procedures.

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