Hydrogen chloride

Hydrogen chloride

Overview
The compound
Chemical compound
A chemical compound is a pure chemical substance consisting of two or more different chemical elements that can be separated into simpler substances by chemical reactions. Chemical compounds have a unique and defined chemical structure; they consist of a fixed ratio of atoms that are held together...

 hydrogen chloride has the formula
Chemical formula
A chemical formula or molecular formula is a way of expressing information about the atoms that constitute a particular chemical compound....

 H
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

Cl
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

. At room temperature, it is a colorless gas
Gas
Gas is one of the three classical states of matter . Near absolute zero, a substance exists as a solid. As heat is added to this substance it melts into a liquid at its melting point , boils into a gas at its boiling point, and if heated high enough would enter a plasma state in which the electrons...

, which forms white fumes of hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid is a solution of hydrogen chloride in water, that is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid with many industrial uses. It is found naturally in gastric acid....

 upon contact with atmospheric humidity
Humidity
Humidity is a term for the amount of water vapor in the air, and can refer to any one of several measurements of humidity. Formally, humid air is not "moist air" but a mixture of water vapor and other constituents of air, and humidity is defined in terms of the water content of this mixture,...

. Hydrogen chloride gas and hydrochloric acid are important in technology and industry. The formula HCl is often used to refer, somewhat misleadingly, to hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid is a solution of hydrogen chloride in water, that is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid with many industrial uses. It is found naturally in gastric acid....

, an aqueous solution that can be derived from hydrogen chloride.

Hydrogen chloride is composed of diatomic
Diatomic
Diatomic molecules are molecules composed only of two atoms, of either the same or different chemical elements. The prefix di- means two in Greek. Common diatomic molecules are hydrogen , nitrogen , oxygen , and carbon monoxide . Seven elements exist in the diatomic state in the liquid and solid...

 molecules, each consisting of a hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

 H and a chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 atom Cl connected by a covalent
Covalent bond
A covalent bond is a form of chemical bonding that is characterized by the sharing of pairs of electrons between atoms. The stable balance of attractive and repulsive forces between atoms when they share electrons is known as covalent bonding....

 single bond.
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Encyclopedia
The compound
Chemical compound
A chemical compound is a pure chemical substance consisting of two or more different chemical elements that can be separated into simpler substances by chemical reactions. Chemical compounds have a unique and defined chemical structure; they consist of a fixed ratio of atoms that are held together...

 hydrogen chloride has the formula
Chemical formula
A chemical formula or molecular formula is a way of expressing information about the atoms that constitute a particular chemical compound....

 H
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

Cl
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

. At room temperature, it is a colorless gas
Gas
Gas is one of the three classical states of matter . Near absolute zero, a substance exists as a solid. As heat is added to this substance it melts into a liquid at its melting point , boils into a gas at its boiling point, and if heated high enough would enter a plasma state in which the electrons...

, which forms white fumes of hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid is a solution of hydrogen chloride in water, that is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid with many industrial uses. It is found naturally in gastric acid....

 upon contact with atmospheric humidity
Humidity
Humidity is a term for the amount of water vapor in the air, and can refer to any one of several measurements of humidity. Formally, humid air is not "moist air" but a mixture of water vapor and other constituents of air, and humidity is defined in terms of the water content of this mixture,...

. Hydrogen chloride gas and hydrochloric acid are important in technology and industry. The formula HCl is often used to refer, somewhat misleadingly, to hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid is a solution of hydrogen chloride in water, that is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid with many industrial uses. It is found naturally in gastric acid....

, an aqueous solution that can be derived from hydrogen chloride.

Chemistry


Hydrogen chloride is composed of diatomic
Diatomic
Diatomic molecules are molecules composed only of two atoms, of either the same or different chemical elements. The prefix di- means two in Greek. Common diatomic molecules are hydrogen , nitrogen , oxygen , and carbon monoxide . Seven elements exist in the diatomic state in the liquid and solid...

 molecules, each consisting of a hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

 H and a chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 atom Cl connected by a covalent
Covalent bond
A covalent bond is a form of chemical bonding that is characterized by the sharing of pairs of electrons between atoms. The stable balance of attractive and repulsive forces between atoms when they share electrons is known as covalent bonding....

 single bond. Since the chlorine atom is much more electronegative than the hydrogen atom, the covalent bond between the two atoms is quite polar. Consequently, the molecule has a large dipole moment with a negative partial charge
Partial charge
A partial charge is a charge with an absolute value of less than one elementary charge unit .-Partial atomic charges:...

 δ at the chlorine atom and a positive partial charge δ+ at the hydrogen atom. In part because of its high polarity, HCl is very soluble in water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 (and in other polar solvent
Solvent
A solvent is a liquid, solid, or gas that dissolves another solid, liquid, or gaseous solute, resulting in a solution that is soluble in a certain volume of solvent at a specified temperature...

s).

Upon contact, H2O and HCl combine to form hydronium
Hydronium
In chemistry, a hydronium ion is the cation , a type of oxonium ion produced by protonation of water. This cation is often used to represent the nature of the proton in aqueous solution, where the proton is highly solvated...

 cations H3O+ and chloride
Chloride
The chloride ion is formed when the element chlorine, a halogen, picks up one electron to form an anion Cl−. The salts of hydrochloric acid HCl contain chloride ions and can also be called chlorides. The chloride ion, and its salts such as sodium chloride, are very soluble in water...

 anions Cl through a reversible chemical reaction
Chemical reaction
A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the transformation of one set of chemical substances to another. Chemical reactions can be either spontaneous, requiring no input of energy, or non-spontaneous, typically following the input of some type of energy, such as heat, light or electricity...

:
HCl + H2O → H3O+ + Cl


The resulting solution is called hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid is a solution of hydrogen chloride in water, that is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid with many industrial uses. It is found naturally in gastric acid....

 and is a strong acid
Strong acid
A strong acid is an acid that ionizes completely in an aqueous solution by losing one proton, according to the equationFor sulfuric acid which is diprotic, the "strong acid" designation refers only to dissociation of the first protonMore precisely, the acid must be stronger in aqueous solution than...

. The acid dissociation
Acid dissociation constant
An acid dissociation constant, Ka, is a quantitative measure of the strength of an acid in solution. It is the equilibrium constant for a chemical reaction known as dissociation in the context of acid-base reactions...

 or ionization constant, Ka, is large, which means HCl dissociates or ionizes practically completely in water. Even in the absence of water, hydrogen chloride can still act as an acid. For example, hydrogen chloride can dissolve in certain other solvents such as methanol
Methanol
Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha or wood spirits, is a chemical with the formula CH3OH . It is the simplest alcohol, and is a light, volatile, colorless, flammable liquid with a distinctive odor very similar to, but slightly sweeter than, ethanol...

, protonate
Protonation
In chemistry, protonation is the addition of a proton to an atom, molecule, or ion. Some classic examples include*the protonation of water by sulfuric acid:*the protonation of isobutene in the formation of a carbocation:2C=CH2 + HBF4 → 3C+ + BF4−*the protonation of ammonia in the...

 molecules or ions, and serve as an acid-catalyst for chemical reactions where anhydrous (water-free) conditions are desired.
HCl + CH3OH → CH3O+H2 + Cl

Because of its acidic nature, hydrogen chloride is corrosive
Corrosive
A corrosive substance is one that will destroy or irreversibly damage another surface or substance with which it comes into contact. The main hazards to people include damage to the eyes, the skin, and the tissue under the skin; inhalation or ingestion of a corrosive substance can damage the...

, particularly in the presence of moisture.

Structure and properties


Frozen HCl undergoes a phase transition at 98.4 K. X-ray powder diffraction of the frozen material shows that the material changes from an orthorhombic
Orthorhombic crystal system
In crystallography, the orthorhombic crystal system is one of the seven lattice point groups. Orthorhombic lattices result from stretching a cubic lattice along two of its orthogonal pairs by two different factors, resulting in a rectangular prism with a rectangular base and height , such that a,...

 structure to a cubic
Cubic crystal system
In crystallography, the cubic crystal system is a crystal system where the unit cell is in the shape of a cube. This is one of the most common and simplest shapes found in crystals and minerals....

 one during this transition. In both structures the chlorine atoms are in a face-centered array. However, the hydrogen atoms could not be located. Analysis of spectroscopic and dielectric data, and determination of the structure of DCl indicates that HCl forms zigzag chains in the solid, as does HF
Hydrogen fluoride
Hydrogen fluoride is a chemical compound with the formula HF. This colorless gas is the principal industrial source of fluorine, often in the aqueous form as hydrofluoric acid, and thus is the precursor to many important compounds including pharmaceuticals and polymers . HF is widely used in the...

 (see figure on right).



The infrared spectrum of gaseous hydrogen chloride, shown below, consists of a number of sharp absorption lines grouped around 2886 cm−1 (wavelength ~3.47 µm). At room temperature, almost all molecules are in the ground vibrational state v = 0. To promote an HCl molecule to the v = 1 state, we would expect to see an infrared absorption about 2880 cm−1. This absorption corresponding to the Q-branch is not observed due to it being forbidden by symmetry. Instead, two sets of signals (P- and R-branches) are seen owing to rotation of the molecules. Because of quantum mechanical rules, only certain rotational modes are permitted. They are characterized by the rotational quantum number J = 0, 1, 2, 3, ... ΔJ can only take values of ± 1.
E(J) = h·B·J(J+1)

The value of B is much smaller than ν e, such that a much smaller amount of energy is required to rotate the molecule; for a typical molecule, this lies within the microwave region. However, the vibrational energy of HCl molecule places its absorptions within the infrared region, allowing a spectrum showing the rovibrational modes of this molecule to be easily collected using an ordinary infrared spectrometer with a conventional gas cell.

Naturally abundant chlorine consists of two isotopes, 35Cl and 37Cl, in a ratio of approximately 3:1. While the spring constants are very similar, the reduced mass
Reduced mass
Reduced mass is the "effective" inertial mass appearing in the two-body problem of Newtonian mechanics. This is a quantity with the unit of mass, which allows the two-body problem to be solved as if it were a one-body problem. Note however that the mass determining the gravitational force is not...

es are different causing significant differences in the rotational energy, thus doublets are observed on close inspection of each absorption line, weighted in the same ratio of 3:1.



Production


Most hydrogen chloride produced on an industrial scale is used for hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid is a solution of hydrogen chloride in water, that is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid with many industrial uses. It is found naturally in gastric acid....

 production.

Direct synthesis



In the chlor-alkali
Chloralkali process
The chloralkali process is an industrial process for the electrolysis of sodium chloride solution . Depending on the method several products beside hydrogen can be produced. If the products are separated, chlorine and sodium hydroxide are the products; by mixing, sodium hypochlorite or sodium...

 industry, brine (mixture of sodium chloride and water) solution is electrolyzed
Electrolysis
In chemistry and manufacturing, electrolysis is a method of using a direct electric current to drive an otherwise non-spontaneous chemical reaction...

 producing chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 (Cl2), sodium hydroxide, and hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 (H2). The pure chlorine gas can be combined with hydrogen to produce hydrogen chloride.
Cl2 + H2 → 2 HCl

As the reaction is exothermic
Exothermic reaction
An exothermic reaction is a chemical reaction that releases energy in the form of light or heat. It is the opposite of an endothermic reaction. Expressed in a chemical equation:-Overview:...

, the installation is called an HCl oven
Oven
An oven is a thermally insulated chamber used for the heating, baking or drying of a substance. It is most commonly used for cooking. Kilns, and furnaces are special-purpose ovens...

 or HCl burner. The resulting hydrogen chloride gas is absorbed in deionized water, resulting in chemically pure hydrochloric acid. This reaction can give a very pure product, e.g. for use in the food industry.

Organic synthesis


The largest production of hydrochloric acid is integrated with the formation of chlorinated
Chlorination
Chlorination is the process of adding the element chlorine to water as a method of water purification to make it fit for human consumption as drinking water...

 and fluorinated
Fluorine
Fluorine is the chemical element with atomic number 9, represented by the symbol F. It is the lightest element of the halogen column of the periodic table and has a single stable isotope, fluorine-19. At standard pressure and temperature, fluorine is a pale yellow gas composed of diatomic...

 organic
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

 compounds, e.g., Teflon, Freon, and other CFC
Chlorofluorocarbon
A chlorofluorocarbon is an organic compound that contains carbon, chlorine, and fluorine, produced as a volatile derivative of methane and ethane. A common subclass are the hydrochlorofluorocarbons , which contain hydrogen, as well. They are also commonly known by the DuPont trade name Freon...

s, as well as chloroacetic acid
Chloroacetic acid
Chloroacetic acid, industrially known as monochloroacetic acid is the organochlorine compound with the formula ClCH2CO2H. This carboxylic acid is a useful building-block in organic synthesis.-Production:...

, and PVC
Polyvinyl chloride
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a vinyl polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups having one hydrogen replaced by chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is widely used in...

. Often this production of hydrochloric acid is integrated with captive use of it on-site. In the chemical reaction
Chemical reaction
A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the transformation of one set of chemical substances to another. Chemical reactions can be either spontaneous, requiring no input of energy, or non-spontaneous, typically following the input of some type of energy, such as heat, light or electricity...

s, hydrogen atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

s on the hydrocarbon are replaced by chlorine atoms, whereupon the released hydrogen atom recombines with the spare atom from the chlorine molecule, forming hydrogen chloride. Fluorination is a subsequent chlorine-replacement reaction, producing again hydrogen chloride.
R-H + Cl2 → R-Cl + HCl
R-Cl + HF → R-F + HCl

The resulting hydrogen chloride gas is either reused directly, or absorbed in water, resulting in hydrochloric acid of technical or industrial grade.

Laboratory methods


Small amounts of HCl gas for laboratory use can be generated in a HCl generator by dehydrating hydrochloric acid with either sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid is a strong mineral acid with the molecular formula . Its historical name is oil of vitriol. Pure sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid. The salts of sulfuric acid are called sulfates...

 or anhydrous calcium chloride
Calcium chloride
Calcium chloride, CaCl2, is a salt of calcium and chlorine. It behaves as a typical ionic halide, and is solid at room temperature. Common applications include brine for refrigeration plants, ice and dust control on roads, and desiccation...

. Alternatively, HCl can be generated by the reaction of sulfuric acid with sodium chloride:
NaCl + H2SO4 → NaHSO4 + HCl


This reaction occurs at room temperature. Provided there is salt remaining in the generator and it is heated above 200 degrees Celsius, the reaction proceeds to;
NaCl + NaHSO4 → HCl + Na2SO4

For such generators to function, the reagents should be dry.

HCl can also be prepared by the hydrolysis
Hydrolysis
Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction during which molecules of water are split into hydrogen cations and hydroxide anions in the process of a chemical mechanism. It is the type of reaction that is used to break down certain polymers, especially those made by condensation polymerization...

 of certain reactive chloride compounds such as phosphorus chlorides
Phosphorus chlorides
Phosphorus pentachloride is the chemical compound with the formula PCl5. It is one of the most important phosphorus chlorides, others being PCl3 and POCl3. PCl5 finds use as a chlorinating reagent...

, thionyl chloride
Thionyl chloride
Thionyl chloride is an inorganic compound with the formula SOCl2. It is a reactive chemical reagent used in chlorination reactions. It is a colorless, distillable liquid at room temperature and pressure that decomposes above 140 °C. Thionyl chloride is sometimes confused with sulfuryl...

 (SOCl2), and acyl chloride
Acyl chloride
In organic chemistry, an acyl chloride is an organic compound with the functional group -CO-Cl. Their formula is usually written RCOCl, where R is a side chain. They are usually considered to be reactive derivatives of carboxylic acids. A specific example of an acyl chloride is acetyl chloride,...

s. For example, cold water can be gradually dripped onto phosphorus pentachloride (PCl5) to give HCl in this reaction:
PCl5 + H2O → POCl3 + 2 HCl


High purity streams of the gas require lecture bottles or cylinders, both of which can be expensive. In comparison, the use of a generator requires only apparatus and materials commonly available in a laboratory.

Applications


Most hydrogen chloride is used in the production of hydrochloric acid. It is also an important reagent in other industrial chemical transformations, e.g.:
  • Hydrochlorination of rubber
  • Production of vinyl and alkyl chlorides


In the semiconductor industry, it is used to both etch semiconductor crystals and to purify silicon
Silicon
Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. A tetravalent metalloid, it is less reactive than its chemical analog carbon, the nonmetal directly above it in the periodic table, but more reactive than germanium, the metalloid directly below it in the table...

 via trichlorosilane
Trichlorosilane
Trichlorosilane is a chemical compound containing silicon, hydrogen, and chlorine. At high temperatures, it decomposes to produce silicon, and therefore purified trichlorosilane is the principal source of ultrapure silicon in the semiconductor industry. In water, it rapidly decomposes to produce...

 (SiHCl3).

It may also be used to treat cotton to delint it, and to separate it from wool.

In the laboratory, anhydrous forms of the gas are particularly useful for generating chloride-based Lewis acid
Lewis acid
]The term Lewis acid refers to a definition of acid published by Gilbert N. Lewis in 1923, specifically: An acid substance is one which can employ a lone pair from another molecule in completing the stable group of one of its own atoms. Thus, H+ is a Lewis acid, since it can accept a lone pair,...

s, which must be absolutely dry for their Lewis sites to function. It can also be used to dry the corresponding hydrated forms of these materials by passing it over as they are heated; the materials would otherwise fume HCl(g) themselves and decompose. Neither can these hydrates be dried using standard desiccator methods.

History


Alchemists
Alchemy
Alchemy is an influential philosophical tradition whose early practitioners’ claims to profound powers were known from antiquity. The defining objectives of alchemy are varied; these include the creation of the fabled philosopher's stone possessing powers including the capability of turning base...

 of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 recognized that hydrochloric acid (then known as spirit of salt or acidum salis) released vaporous hydrogen chloride, which was called marine acid air. In the 17th century, Johann Rudolf Glauber
Johann Rudolf Glauber
Johann Rudolf Glauber was a German-Dutch alchemist and chemist. Some historians of science have described him as one of the first chemical engineers...

 used salt (sodium chloride
Sodium chloride
Sodium chloride, also known as salt, common salt, table salt or halite, is an inorganic compound with the formula NaCl. Sodium chloride is the salt most responsible for the salinity of the ocean and of the extracellular fluid of many multicellular organisms...

) and sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid
Sulfuric acid is a strong mineral acid with the molecular formula . Its historical name is oil of vitriol. Pure sulfuric acid is a highly corrosive, colorless, viscous liquid. The salts of sulfuric acid are called sulfates...

 for the preparation of sodium sulfate
Sodium sulfate
Sodium sulfate is the sodium salt of sulfuric acid. When anhydrous, it is a white crystalline solid of formula Na2SO4 known as the mineral thenardite; the decahydrate Na2SO4·10H2O has been known as Glauber's salt or, historically, sal mirabilis since the 17th century. Another solid is the...

, releasing hydrogen chloride gas (see production, below). In 1772, Carl Wilhelm Scheele
Carl Wilhelm Scheele
Carl Wilhelm Scheele was a German-Swedish pharmaceutical chemist. Isaac Asimov called him "hard-luck Scheele" because he made a number of chemical discoveries before others who are generally given the credit...

 also reported this reaction and is sometimes credited with its discovery. Joseph Priestley
Joseph Priestley
Joseph Priestley, FRS was an 18th-century English theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, and political theorist who published over 150 works...

 prepared hydrogen chloride in 1772, and in 1810 Humphry Davy
Humphry Davy
Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet FRS MRIA was a British chemist and inventor. He is probably best remembered today for his discoveries of several alkali and alkaline earth metals, as well as contributions to the discoveries of the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine...

 established that it is composed of hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 and chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

.

During the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, demand for alkaline substances such as soda ash increased, and Nicolas Leblanc developed a new industrial-scale process for producing the soda ash. In the Leblanc process
Leblanc process
The Leblanc process was the industrial process for the production of soda ash used throughout the 19th century, named after its inventor, Nicolas Leblanc. It involved two stages: Production of sodium sulfate from sodium chloride, followed by reaction of the sodium sulfate with coal and calcium...

, salt was converted to soda ash, using sulfuric acid, limestone, and coal, giving hydrogen chloride as by-product. Initially, this gas was vented to air, but the Alkali Act of 1863 prohibited such release, so then soda ash producers absorbed the HCl waste gas in water, producing hydrochloric acid on an industrial scale. Later, the Hargreaves process was developed, which is similar to the Leblanc process except sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is released by volcanoes and in various industrial processes. Since coal and petroleum often contain sulfur compounds, their combustion generates sulfur dioxide unless the sulfur compounds are removed before burning the fuel...

, water, and air are used instead of sulfuric acid in a reaction which is exothermic overall. In the early 20th century the Leblanc process was effectively replaced by the Solvay process
Solvay process
The Solvay process, also referred to as the ammonia-soda process, is the major industrial process for the production of soda ash . The ammonia-soda process was developed into its modern form by Ernest Solvay during the 1860s...

, which did not produce HCl. However, hydrogen chloride production continued as a step in hydrochloric acid production.

Historical uses of hydrogen chloride in the 20th century include hydrochlorinations of alkynes in producing the chlorinated monomer
Monomer
A monomer is an atom or a small molecule that may bind chemically to other monomers to form a polymer; the term "monomeric protein" may also be used to describe one of the proteins making up a multiprotein complex...

s chloroprene
Chloroprene
Chloroprene is the common name for the organic compound 2-chlorobuta-1,3-diene, which has the formula CH2=CCl-CH=CH2. This colorless liquid is the monomer for the production of the polymer polychloroprene, a type of synthetic rubber...

 and vinyl chloride
Vinyl chloride
Vinyl chloride is the organochloride with the formula H2C:CHCl. It is also called vinyl chloride monomer, VCM or chloroethene. This colorless compound is an important industrial chemical chiefly used to produce the polymer polyvinyl chloride . At ambient pressure and temperature, vinyl chloride...

, which are subsequently polymer
Polymer
A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds...

ized to make polychloroprene (Neoprene
Neoprene
Neoprene or polychloroprene is a family of synthetic rubbers that are produced by polymerization of chloroprene. Neoprene in general has good chemical stability, and maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range...

) and polyvinyl chloride
Polyvinyl chloride
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a vinyl polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups having one hydrogen replaced by chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is widely used in...

 (PVC), respectively. In the production of vinyl chloride, acetylene
Acetylene
Acetylene is the chemical compound with the formula C2H2. It is a hydrocarbon and the simplest alkyne. This colorless gas is widely used as a fuel and a chemical building block. It is unstable in pure form and thus is usually handled as a solution.As an alkyne, acetylene is unsaturated because...

 (C2H2) is hydrochlorinated by adding the HCl across the triple bond
Triple bond
A triple bond in chemistry is a chemical bond between two chemical elements involving six bonding electrons instead of the usual two in a covalent single bond. The most common triple bond, that between two carbon atoms, can be found in alkynes. Other functional groups containing a triple bond are...

 of the C2H2 molecule, turning the triple into a double bond
Double bond
A double bond in chemistry is a chemical bond between two chemical elements involving four bonding electrons instead of the usual two. The most common double bond, that between two carbon atoms, can be found in alkenes. Many types of double bonds between two different elements exist, for example in...

, yielding vinyl chloride.

The "acetylene process", used until the 1960s for making chloroprene
Chloroprene
Chloroprene is the common name for the organic compound 2-chlorobuta-1,3-diene, which has the formula CH2=CCl-CH=CH2. This colorless liquid is the monomer for the production of the polymer polychloroprene, a type of synthetic rubber...

, starts out by joining two acetylene
Acetylene
Acetylene is the chemical compound with the formula C2H2. It is a hydrocarbon and the simplest alkyne. This colorless gas is widely used as a fuel and a chemical building block. It is unstable in pure form and thus is usually handled as a solution.As an alkyne, acetylene is unsaturated because...

 molecules, and then adds HCl to the joined intermediate across the triple bond
Triple bond
A triple bond in chemistry is a chemical bond between two chemical elements involving six bonding electrons instead of the usual two in a covalent single bond. The most common triple bond, that between two carbon atoms, can be found in alkynes. Other functional groups containing a triple bond are...

 to convert it to chloroprene as shown here:


This "acetylene process" has been replaced by a process which adds Cl2
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 to one of the double bonds in 1,3-butadiene instead, and subsequent elimination produces HCl instead, as well as chloroprene.

Safety


Hydrogen chloride forms corrosive hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid
Hydrochloric acid is a solution of hydrogen chloride in water, that is a highly corrosive, strong mineral acid with many industrial uses. It is found naturally in gastric acid....

 on contact with water found in body tissue. Inhalation
Inhalation
Inhalation is the movement of air from the external environment, through the air ways, and into the alveoli....

 of the fumes can cause cough
Cough
A cough is a sudden and often repetitively occurring reflex which helps to clear the large breathing passages from secretions, irritants, foreign particles and microbes...

ing, choking
Choking
Choking is the mechanical obstruction of the flow of air from the environment into the lungs. Choking prevents breathing, and can be partial or complete, with partial choking allowing some, although inadequate, flow of air into the lungs. Prolonged or complete choking results in asphyxia which...

, inflammation
Inflammation
Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants. Inflammation is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli and to initiate the healing process...

 of the nose
Human nose
The visible part of the human nose is the protruding part of the face that bears the nostrils. The shape of the nose is determined by the ethmoid bone and the nasal septum, which consists mostly of cartilage and which separates the nostrils...

, throat
Throat
In vertebrate anatomy, the throat is the anterior part of the neck, in front of the vertebral column. It consists of the pharynx and larynx...

, and upper respiratory tract
Respiratory tract
In humans the respiratory tract is the part of the anatomy involved with the process of respiration.The respiratory tract is divided into 3 segments:*Upper respiratory tract: nose and nasal passages, paranasal sinuses, and throat or pharynx...

, and in severe cases, pulmonary edema
Pulmonary edema
Pulmonary edema , or oedema , is fluid accumulation in the air spaces and parenchyma of the lungs. It leads to impaired gas exchange and may cause respiratory failure...

, circulatory system
Circulatory system
The circulatory system is an organ system that passes nutrients , gases, hormones, blood cells, etc...

 failure, and death
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

. Skin
Skin
-Dermis:The dermis is the layer of skin beneath the epidermis that consists of connective tissue and cushions the body from stress and strain. The dermis is tightly connected to the epidermis by a basement membrane. It also harbors many Mechanoreceptors that provide the sense of touch and heat...

 contact can cause redness, pain
Pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation often caused by intense or damaging stimuli such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone."...

, and severe skin burns
Burn (injury)
A burn is a type of injury to flesh caused by heat, electricity, chemicals, light, radiation or friction. Most burns affect only the skin . Rarely, deeper tissues, such as muscle, bone, and blood vessels can also be injured...

. Hydrogen chloride may cause severe burns to the eye
Human eye
The human eye is an organ which reacts to light for several purposes. As a conscious sense organ, the eye allows vision. Rod and cone cells in the retina allow conscious light perception and vision including color differentiation and the perception of depth...

 and permanent eye damage.

The gas, being strongly hydrophilic, can be easily scrubbed from the exhaust gases of a reaction by bubbling it through water, producing useful hydrochloric acid as a byproduct.

Any equipment handling hydrogen chloride gas must be checked on a routine basis; particularly valve stems and regulators. The gas requires the use of specialized materials on all whetted parts of the flow path, as it will interact with or corrode numerous materials hydrochloric acid alone will not; such as stainless and regular polymers.

See also

  • Chloride
    Chloride
    The chloride ion is formed when the element chlorine, a halogen, picks up one electron to form an anion Cl−. The salts of hydrochloric acid HCl contain chloride ions and can also be called chlorides. The chloride ion, and its salts such as sodium chloride, are very soluble in water...

    , inorganic salts of hydrochloric acid
  • Hydrochloride
    Hydrochloride
    In chemistry, hydrochlorides are salts resulting, or regarded as resulting, from the reaction of hydrochloric acid with an organic base . This is also known as muriate, derived from hydrochloric acid's other name: muriatic acid....

    , organic salts of hydrochloric acid
  • Gastric acid
    Gastric acid
    Gastric acid is a digestive fluid, formed in the stomach. It has a pH of 1 to 2 and is composed of hydrochloric acid , and large quantities of potassium chloride and sodium chloride...

    , hydrochloric acid secreted into the stomach
    Stomach
    The stomach is a muscular, hollow, dilated part of the alimentary canal which functions as an important organ of the digestive tract in some animals, including vertebrates, echinoderms, insects , and molluscs. It is involved in the second phase of digestion, following mastication .The stomach is...

     to aid digestion
    Digestion
    Digestion is the mechanical and chemical breakdown of food into smaller components that are more easily absorbed into a blood stream, for instance. Digestion is a form of catabolism: a breakdown of large food molecules to smaller ones....

     of protein
    Protein
    Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

    s

External Links



  • Thames & Kosmos
    Thames & Kosmos
    Thames & Kosmos is a publisher of over 60 science kits for kids of all ages, which cover topics such as biology, physics, astronomy, and alternative energy. It places an emphasis on teaching real-world issues and practical skills through hands-on experimentation and comprehensive reading materials...

    Chem C2000 Experiment Manual