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Lead chamber process

The lead chamber process was an industrial process used to produce relatively strong concentrations of sulfuric acid in large quantities.

In 1746, John Roebuck began producing sulfuric acid in lead-lined chambers, which were stronger, less expensive, and could be made larger than the glass containers which had been used previously. This allowed the effective industrialization of sulfuric acid production, and with several refinements remained the standard method of production for almost two centuries.

The reaction

2SO2 + O2 → 2SO3

is catalysed by oxides of nitrogen through the intermediate formation of HOSO2ONO. The SO3 produced is dissolved in water contained in the chamber.

Concentrations ranged from 35%-40%, and after numerous refinements up to 78%. The method was eventually replaced by the contact process which produces concentrated sulphuric acid (usually 98%), at much lower cost.


  • Derry, Thomas Kingston and Williams, Trevor I., (1993) A Short History of Technology : From the Earliest Times to A.D. 1900. New York: Dover Publications.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Lead_chamber_process". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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