Inorganic chemistry

What are the uses of sulfur?

What are the general characteristics of sulfur?

What is Sulfur ?

Definition :

The  sulfur  is a chemical element that was classified as such by the chemist Antoine Lavoisier in 1777. It represents the acronym S by the Latin name has been given: sulfur.

The sulfur element is located in the Periodic Table in the third period (horizontal column) of group 16 (known as the VIA family or chalcogenic family).

Content Index:

  • 1 General characteristics
  • 2 Atomic characteristics
  • 3 Properties
  • 4 Isotopes
  • 5 allotropic forms
    • 5.1 Rhombic sulfur (formula S8)
    • 5.2 Monoclinic sulfur (formula S8)
  • 6 Ways to obtain
    • 6.1 Free sulfur
    • 6.2 Combined sulfur
  • 7 Applications

General characteristics of sulfur :

  • Group:  6
  • Symbol:  S
  • Electronic configuration:  [Ne] 3s2 3p4
  • Density:  2.07 g / cm3
  • Mass:  32.06
  • Boiling point:  444,674 ° C
  • Melting point:  112.8 ° C
  • Classification:  non metallic
  • Color: yellowish
  • Structure:  orthorhombic
  • Discoverer: Anonymous
  • Year of discovery: unknown

Atomic characteristics of sulfur :

In general, the atoms of the chemical element sulfur have:

  • Atomic Number:  16
  • 16 protons
  • 16 electrons
  • 3 energy levels (K, L, M)
  • More energy  sub-level : 3p4
  • External  sub-level : 3p4

Properties of sulfur :

  • Pale yellow
  • Solid
  • Toilet
  • Without flavor
  • Insoluble in water
  • Brittle
  • Bad electricity conductor
  • Non-metal
  • Soluble in carbon disulfide


sulfur characteristics

Isotopes of sulfur :

Isotopes are atoms that have the same number of protons, but differ in the number of neutrons and the number of mass.

In nature,  there are about 18 sulfur isotopes , but only four of them are stable (all others are unstable, that is, radioactive). Look at the four stable isotopes of sulfur:

Sulfur-32 (whose acronym is 16S32):  is the sulfur isotope that has a mass number equal to 32 and a number of neutrons equal to 16.

  • Sulfur-33 (16S33):  is the isotope of sulfur with a mass number equal to 33 and a number of neutrons equal to 17.
  • Sulfur-34 (16S34):  is the isotope of sulfur with a mass number equal to 34 and a number of neutrons equal to 18.
  • Sulfur-34 (16S36):  is the isotope of sulfur with a mass number equal to 36 and a number of neutrons equal to 20.

Allotropic forms of sulfur :

Like the chemical elements carbon, oxygen and phosphorus, sulfur has the property of forming different simple substances, the so-called allotropes (substances whose molecules are formed by atoms of the same chemical element).

Rhombic sulfur (formula S8)

The most common form of sulfur and its most stable allotrope. It is in the form of yellow and transparent crystals.

  • Its melting point is 2.07ºC
  • Its boiling point is 444.6ºC
  • Its density is 2.07 g / mL
  • It is a low hardness material

Monoclinic sulfur (formula S8)

It is a less stable form of sulfur and is in the form of fine yellow and opaque needles.

  • Its melting point is 119ºC
  • Its boiling point is 444.6ºC
  • Its density is 1.96 g / mL
  • It is a low hardness material

Ways to obtain sulfur :

The way in which sulfur is obtained is related to its availability in nature. It can be found freely or in combination with other elements.

Free sulfur

In its free form, sulfur is found in sedimentary deposits and in volcanic regions.

Combined sulfur

When combined with other chemical elements, forming sulfates, sulphites or sulphides, sulfur can be obtained from petroleum, natural gas and coal. However, the sulfur element is most commonly found in minerals, such as:

  • Pyrite (iron disulfide)
  • Cinnabar (mercury sulfide)
  • Sphalerite (zinc sulphide)
  • Galena (lead sulfide)

Applications of sulfur :

This element is of great importance because it has many applications such as:

  • Sulfuric acid manufacturing.
  • Gunpowder manufacturing
  • Manufacture of fertilizers.
  • Pesticide manufacturing
  • Vulcanization of rubber.
  • Fertilizer production
  • It is present in the composition of all sulfates, sulphites and sulphides.
  • In the form of sulfate, it can be used as a laxative, bactericide, fungicide, production of plant supplements, production of some inorganic acids, etc.
  • In the form of sulfite, it participates in the production of preservatives and as a paper bleach.

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