Periodic Table -> Sulphur


Sulphur Details

Sulphur Symbol: S

Sulphur Atomic Number: 16

Sulphur Atomic Weight: 32.064

What is Sulphur?

Sulfur (atomic number 16, symbol S) is a non-metal and element that is odorless and tasteless. It is known since ancient times and used in Egypt, China, and Greece.

Properties, Isotopes, Compounds, and Occurrence
Sulfur reacts as an oxidant with non-metals and metals and as a reducing agent with fluorine, oxygen, and other elements. It forms different compounds, including organic compounds, metal sulfides, halides, oxides, and others. In fact, it combines with most elements from the Periodic Table. The element is bright yellow in color, soft, and abundant. Its boiling point is 445 C (833 F), and its melting point is 113 C (235.4 F). Sulfur has 28 isotopes and 30 allotropes. Four of its isotopes, S-36, S-34, S-33, and S-32 are stable.

Deposits are found in Poland, Japan, Chile, and Indonesia. The main producers during the early 21st century were Japan, Germany, Canada, and China. Sulfur occurs in regions with volcanic activity and near hot springs. It can be found in different sulfides, including rosalgar, blende, galena, calcopyrite, and pyrite. Volcanic gases and sulfuric waters contain compounds such as hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide. Sulfur and its compounds are also found in natural gas, petroleum, and coal ores as well as in the form of barium sulfate and calcium sulfate dehydrate. Salt domes in the Gulf of Mexico and swamplands in Louisiana, US also contain sulfur. The Frasch Process is one method that is used for extraction. Water is heated to melt deposits and extract water mixed with sulfur. The element is also obtained as a byproduct of oil extraction and refining. It is also recovered when nickel, cadmium, copper, zinc, lead, and other metals are processed. Sulfur trioxide is converted to sulfuric acid which comes in different concentrations.

Commercial Applications
Sulfur has many applications and is used to produce fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, and matches. It is also used in fireworks, gun powder, detergents, and matches. The element also has applications in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries and is used to produce solvents, fine chemicals, and concrete. Sulfuric acid is an acid with many applications and is used as an electrolyte, cleaning agent, and catalyst. It is also added to drain cleaners that remove tissue paper, hair, grease, and dirt. Sulfuric acid is also added to medications that treat mouth ulcers and sores.

The element is used to produce explosives, sheet metal, petroleum products, and fibers. It is also used in the production of dyestuffs, paper, detergents, pigments, and other products. Its compounds are added to lubricants and used to manufacture esters, inorganic salts, medications, and dyes. Some compounds are also used to produce rayon and rubber, solvents, as well as dermatological agents and sulfa drugs.

Amino Acids, Hazards, and Environmental Effects
Essential amino acids such as cysteine and methionine contain sulfur. Amino acids such as taurine and cysteine are components of coenzymes, enzymes, and hormones. Taurine, for example, is important for the proper functioning of the central nervous system, skeletal muscles, and cardiovascular system. Cysteine is another amino acid that contains sulfur and is found in the composition of proteins as well as plant and animal food sources. Some foods also contain sulfur, for example, foods that are rich in protein, including eggs, legumes, meat, poultry, fish, and nuts. Vegetables such as bok choy, turnips, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and broccoli are also good sources. Sulfur bonds, however, are a health hazard and cause respiratory problems, lung embolism, hearing defects, kidney and liver damage, and gastrointestinal problems. Exposure also leads to heart damage, poor blood circulation, behavioral changes, and compromised immunity. Hydrogen sulfide is a poisonous gas that is known as sour damp and swamp gas. It is colorless and heavy and is used as a reducing agent and bleach. In animals, exposure can lead to nervous system damage, brain damage, and other problems and disorders.

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