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Contact process (based on process flow diagram):

Raw material: sulphur (from natural gas and oil)
: air (oxygen)
: water
Stage 1: Preparation of sulphur dioxide
1. Air (oxygen) : pure oxygen is blown into the plant through air blower.
2. Drying tower: absorb water vapour remaining in the gas. The gas is now dried by
passing through drying tower where concentrated H2SO4 (dehydrating agent)
is sprayed. H2SO4 removes moisture from SO2
3. Sulfur in solid pass through melter and sprayed in the furnace and burned with drying
4. Burn sulfur in air : S(s) + O₂(𝑔) → 𝑆𝑂₂(𝑔)
5. Purification of sulfur dioxide : the gas is purified and cooled.
6. Oxidation of sulfur dioxide: oxidation produce large amount of heat is used to boil
water to produce steam to generate electricity.
Stage 2: Catalytic conversion
Sulfur dioxide with excess oxygen are pass through a converter. Sulfur dioxide is converted to
sulfur trioxide with the presence of vanadium oxide as a catalyst, a temperature of 400-550 °c
and a pressure of 1-2 atm.
2𝑆𝑂₂(𝑔) + 𝑂₂(𝑔) ↔ 2𝑆𝑂₃
First converter: 63% of SO2 to SO3
Second converter: 88% of SO2 to SO3
Third converter: 95% of SO2 to SO3
Converter Inlet Outlet
1st Pass 420 580
2nd pass 430 490
3rd pass 430 475

Sulphur trioxide produced form the converter is fed to economizer to heat the boiler feed water.
• Exothermic reaction
• Catalyst: to speed up the reaction
: platinum is expensive so vanadium oxide preferred
Stage 3: Absorption
1. In oleum tower SO₃ is absorbed by the oleum circulation
2. H₂SO₄ from acid tank is then pumped into the absorbing tower then go through the
oleum tower and go back too to the drying tower.
3. Sulfur trioxide is reacted with concentrated of sulfuric acid to form oleum
𝑆𝑂₃(𝑔) + 𝐻₂𝑆𝑂₄(𝑙) → 𝐻₂𝑆₂𝑂₇
4. Oleum is diluted with water to produce concentrated sulfuric acid in large
𝐻₂𝑆₂𝑂₇ + 𝐻₂𝑂(𝑙) → 2𝐻₂𝑆𝑂₄(𝑙)
5. Sulfur trioxide is not dissolve directly in water to produce H2SO4 because:
• Solubility of sulfur trioxide in water is low
• Sulfur trioxide reacts too violently with water to produce a lot heat and
fumes(acid vapor)