Sulfur dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula SO ₂. It is a toxic gas responsible for the smell of burnt matches. It is released naturally by volcanic activity and is produced as a by-product of copper extraction and the burning of sulfur-bearing fossil fuels. Sulfur dioxide has a pungent smell like nitric acid.
It exists in very small concentrations in the atmosphere at about 1 ppm. Most sulfur dioxide is produced by the combustion of elemental sulfur. Some sulfur dioxide is also produced by roasting pyrite and other sulfide ores in air. Sulfur dioxide is sometimes used as a preservative for dried apricots, dried figs, and other dried fruits, owing to its antimicrobial properties and ability to prevent oxidation and is called E220 when used in this way in Europe.
As a preservative, it maintains the colorful appearance of the fruit and prevents rotting. SO2 is also a very important compound in winery sanitation. Wineries and equipment must be kept clean, and because bleach cannot be used in a winery due to the risk of cork taint, a mixture of SO2, water, and citric acid is commonly used to clean and sanitize equipment. Being easily condensed and possessing a high heat of evaporation, sulfur dioxide is a candidate material for refrigerants.
Prior to the development of chlorofluorocarbons, sulfur dioxide was used as a refrigerant in home refrigerators.
- Sulfuric Acid Manufacturing
- Used as a preservative for dried fruits
- Used in Winemaking serving as antibiotic & antioxidant and also for sanitation
- Used as a reducing agent for bleached materials such as clothes
- Used in Municipal Wastewater treatment
- Used as a laboratory reagent/solvent
- Previously used as refrigerant for home refrigerators
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