In more ways than we probably realize, we are reliant on chemicals to help create, maintain and improve our daily lives. With more and more scientific influence on manufacturing and industry, chemicals are seeing their demand skyrocket.
With millions of tons of chemicals being produced each year, some specific examples rise to the top in terms of their use and presence on the industrial landscape. Here are five of the most common chemicals out there today:
Nitrogen is one of the most widely-used chemicals in the world and is one of the rare chemicals that has found an array of uses in two forms – as a gas and as a liquid. The gaseous form of nitrogen is often implemented in situations where materials need to be protected from contact with oxygen, such as food preservation and in the electronics industry.
Holding the title of most produced chemical in the world, sulfuric acid is also a volatile and reactive liquid. It can corrode metal, burn organic materials and release heat when dissolved in water. As such, much of its use is with industrial cleaning and agricultural fertilizer-manufacturing areas. It is vital to metal manufacturing, including steel, copper and zinc, and can remove petroleum refinery impurities.
Prized for its antiseptic properties, chlorine is commonly found in use where purifying and disinfecting is needed, including in swimming pools, household cleaners, insect repellants and water purification. The industrial sector has also found extensive use for chlorine, which is never found free in nature because it combines directly with almost every known element. Two of the most common chlorine chemical compounds used regularly are sodium chloride, commonly known as table salt, and hydrogen chloride, which is often mixed with water to form hydrochloric acid.
A colorless, inorganic chemical compound consisting of nitrogen and hydrogen, ammonia is often used in its gas form. Most ammonia use is found in household, agricultural and industrial sectors, including use as an ingredient in fertilizers, cleaning products, cosmetics and refrigeration.
When a situation calls for a strong chemical base for a compound, almost every time sodium hydroxide is the choice. Over 14 million tons of sodium hydroxide are produced each year just in the United States, and is found across the industrial spectrum, finding use in everything from papermaking and soap manufacturing to industrial cleaning and petroleum drilling.
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