[Getty Images]

Sulphur miner works on Kawah Ijen volcanic crater in East Java. The miners trek over five miles with loads weighing up to 220 pounds on their backs to earn £4.50 a day.

Sulphur mining …

Sulphur is a non-metallic chemical element identified by the letter S. Sulphur is a valuable commodity and integral component of the world economy used to manufacture numerous products including fertilizers and other chemicals. Sulphur also is a vital nutrient for crops, animals and people.

Sulphur occurs naturally in the environment and is the thirteenth most abundant element in the earth’s crust. It can be mined in its elemental form, though this production has reduced significantly in recent years.

Chemical properties of sulphur

Sulphur combines directly with almost all the elements with the exception of gold, platinum and the noble gases. In its native form, sulphur is a yellow crystalline solid. It can be found as a pure element or as sulphate or sulphide minerals. The crystallography of sulphur is complex. Depending on the specific conditions, the sulphur allotropes form several distinct crystal structures, with rhombic and monoclinic S8 best known.

Sulphur uses

The major derivative of sulphur is sulphuric acid (H2SO4), the highest production volume chemical, used as an industrial raw material. The largest single use of sulphuric acid is for the manufacture of phosphoric acid, a precursor to phosphate fertilizers and non-fertilizer phosphates. Sulphur and its derivatives are also used in metallurgical ore leaching, caprolactam, pigments, hydrofluoric acid, pulp and paper chemicals, sulphur fertilizers, petroleum refining, batteries, detergents, fungicides, carbon disulphide, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, cosmetics, leather tanning, rubber vulcanization, plasticizers, dyestuffs, explosives, aramid fibers, construction materials, sugar manufacture, dehydrating agent in organic chemical and petrochemical processes, water treatment, and steel pickling.




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