Segments in this Video

Producing Nitroglycerin (05:50)


Acid is used in almost all American manufacturing, but it is also used in explosives in the volatile form of nitric acid. The Holston Army Ammunition Plant is the largest supplier of high-performance explosives for the American military including C-4 and molten TNT.

Acidic Fertilizer (01:53)

Most nitric acid produced in the United States goes toward the production of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, but it retains its explosive properties.

Measuring the Strength of Acid (02:54)

Sulfuric acid is the leading chemical manufactured in the United States and is considered stronger than nitric acid due to its high concentration of hydrogen ions. When water is added to acid, the solution becomes so hot it will melt through the container it is in; sulfuric acid also removes moisture from whatever material it touches, including human skin.

Creating Sulfuric Acid (03:15)

Sulfuric acid is produced on an industrialized scale in Mulberry, Florida where it goes on to be used in the petroleum, bleaching, and paper industries, and as a disinfectant in beer production. The acid begins by expelling sulfur into a furnace where it combusts into sulfur dioxide gas, then sulfur trioxide, and finally a sulfuric acid solution.

Making Gelatin (05:21)

Hydrochloric acid can dissolve a body, flesh, and bones, in as little as nine hours, but the fumes would kill someone long before; this is also the acid the stomach produces. When making gelatin, producers must begin by breaking down bone with hydrochloric acid to remove the minerals from the rebar protein, used in gelatin, from the bone.

Citric Acid (03:58)

Vinegar is an important ingredient for many American food products; Heinz created vinegar from alcohol made from corn by running it through several industrial processes.

Electropolishing (04:48)

Steel, as a raw material, is often dull and vulnerable to corrosion, so manufacturers bathe steel parts in an acidic bath and then electrify the mixture to protect and polish the material through passivation. Albright Electropolishing Inc has found an environmentally friendly way to recycle the acid used in processing stainless steel.

Acid in Metal Recycling (04:35)

Heraeus Metal Processing uses acid to recycle gold, silver, and platinum from spent parts that are normally thrown away; this facility uses hydrometallurgy to repurpose precious metals. Sulfuric acid is added to the platinum mixtures to completely dissolve all of the materials aside from the precious metals.

Metal Etching With Acid (05:49)

FotoFab specializes in acid etching metal parts for the automotive and technology industries with ferric chloride acid. During World War I hydrochloric acid was used to poison soldiers with noxious fumes.

Acid Pools (04:29)

Yellowstone National Park is an international tourist attraction due partially to its large, acid pools; the region seems inhospitable, but scientists have discovered strange creatures living within the acid. More people have died in Yellowstone due to thermal pools than from bear attacks; sites such as these are frequently used for scientific research.

Credits: Acid (00:35)

Credits: Acid

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Acid (Modern Marvels)

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It is the most widely produced chemical in the world and possibly the most dangerous. Take a look at the many uses of acid.

Length: 45 minutes

Item#: BVL160881

Copyright date: ©2007

Closed Captioned

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