Here are four different ways chemists use to show a molecule of nitric acid. In the colored molecule models, sulfur is yellow, oxygen is red, and hydrogen is white.
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe original artwork by Randy Russell.
Sulfuric Acid - H2SO4
Sulfuric acid is a very common type of acid. Acid rain has sulfuric acid in it. Acid rain harms plants, fish, and other living things.
A type of air pollution causes acid rain. When people burn fossil fuels like oil and coal, the smoke has a chemical in it called sulfur dioxide. When the sulfur dioxide gas comes into contact with water droplets in the atmosphere, it changes into sulfuric acid. This is one of the ways acid rain forms. Volcanoes also give off sulfur dioxide gas.
Sulfuric acid isn't all bad, though. People use this acid in lots of ways. Batteries in cars have sulfuric acid in them. Some drain cleaners do too. Humans make more than 100 million tons of sulfuric acid each year!
The hot atmosphere of the planet Venus has sulfuric acid in it. That makes it really hard to build spacecraft that can last very long in the atmosphere of Venus.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
Have you heard about rivers, lakes, or streams becoming polluted? Sometimes the pollution is from trash or from dangerous things spilled into the water. However, sometimes the source of water pollution...more
Have you ever heard of air pollution? Air pollution is not new. 700 years ago, when people started burning large amounts of coal 700 years ago in London, England, they complained about the dust and soot...more
Have you ever heard of acid rain? Acid rain is what happens when some types of air pollution is washed out of the sky by rain. Sometimes, the pollution can be washed out by snow, sleet, hail, mist or fog,...more
Air pollution comes from many sources. Some natural sources affect air quality. Volcanoes produce sulfur, chlorine, and ash. Wildfires make smoke and carbon monoxide. Cattle and other animals release methane...more
When you think of chemistry, do you think about mixing colored liquids in test tubes and maybe making an explosion... or at least a nice puff of smoke? Did you know that a lot of chemistry happens in Earth's...more
Ammonia is a kind of gas. Ammonia molecules (NH3) have hydrogen and nitrogen atoms in them. The air you breathe has a tiny bit of ammonia in it. When plants and animals die and decay, they give off ammonia....more
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a kind of chemical. A molecule of hydrogen peroxide has oxygen and hydrogen atoms in it. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid. Hydrogen peroxide is in some liquids that are used...more