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Introduction

Sodium carbonate(CAS NO: 497-19-8) is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula Na2CO3. This chemical is also known as soda ash, washing soda and soda crystals. These water-soluble salts are white in appearance and are hygroscopic. They have a strong alkaline taste and are odorless.

 

Production

- Mining and Plants

Sodium carbonate can be mined from trona, which is trisodium hydrogendicarbonatedihydrate, which is presentin alkaline lakes and can be obtained by dredging.Sodium carbonate can be obtained by processing salt tolerant plant species and seaweed species. These plants are harvested, dried and burned. This is followed by washing the ashes with water to produce an alkali solution. The solution is subjected to boiling, which gives sodium carbonate.

 

- Leblanc Process

Leblanc process is used for the manufacture of sodium carbonate from limestone, coal, sulphuric acid and salt. First, sodium chloride reacts with sulphuric acid in Mannheim process. This results in sodium sulphate and hydrogen chloride.

2NaCl + H2SO4 → Na2SO4 + 2HCl

Reduction of sodium sulfate and limestone takes place through coal heating. Sulfate reduces to sulfide in the process.

Na2SO4 + 2C → Na2S + 2CO2

It is then followed by reaction of sodium sulfide with calcium carbonate resulting in the synthesis of sodium carbonate and calcium sulfide.

Na2S + CaCO3 → Na2CO3 + CaS

 

- Solvay Process

Solvay method involves the conversion of sodium chloride to sodium carbonate with the use of carbon dioxide and ammonia.

NaCl + NH3 + CO2 + H2O → NaHCO3 + NH4Cl

The obtained sodium bicarbonate through heating is converted to sodium carbonate, where water and carbon dioxide are released.

2NaHCO3 → Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2

 

Applications

- Sodium carbonate suppliers supply the chemical compound to be used in the manufacture of detergents, paper, glass, soaps and rayon.

- Glass manufacturing industries buy sodium carbonate for use as a flux for silica, which lowers the melting point of the mix without using special ingredients.

- Water companies buy sodium carbonate to soften water by removal of Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions.

- The food additives industries buy sodium carbonate, which is known as E500 for use as raising agent, anticaking agent, stabilizer and acidity regulator. Sodium carbonate suppliers sell it for the manufacture of sherbet powder.

- Sodium carbonate suppliers also sell it for various industrial processes, since it a relatively strong base with lesser cost as compared with sodium hydroxide.

 

Safety Precautions

Sodium carbonate causes skin irritation and eye irritation.Thorough washing must be implemented after handling the chemical. Personal protection equipment such as gloves ad eye gear should be worn by sodium carbonate suppliers, manufacturers and factory employees. Contaminated clothing should be washed before reuse. Good ventilation must be provided in the process area to prevent accumulation of vapor. It must be kept away from incompatibles such as strong acids and strong bases as well as sources of ignition and direct sunlight. Intermediate and end user industries who buy sodium carbonate must follow the MSDS guidelines, while handling the chemical.

 

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