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Posted (edited)

I've been engaged in agricultural practices for some time, and acids are particularly needed and useful products, to amend basic soils and lye rich biochars.

So far, I've managed to mass produce glacial acetic acid with mother of vinegar and carboxylic acids, using anaerobic decomposition. I've also made some hydrochloric acid, using the chloralkali process, but the table salt feedstock is not cost effective for the intended use.

So my question is this: do you know of any acids that are (relatively) easy and/or cheap to mass produce, without much need for expensive equipment and/or feedstocks?

Edited by gatewood
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2 minutes ago, gatewood said:

I've been engaged in agricultural practices for some time, and acids are particularly needed and useful products, to amend basic soils and lye rich biochars.

So far, I've managed to mass produce glacial acetic acid with mother of vinegar and carboxylic acids, using anaerobic decomposition. I've also made some hydrochloric acid, using the chloralkali process, but the table salt feedstock is not cost effective for the intended use.

So my question is this: you of any acids that are (relatively) easy and/or cheap to mass produce, without much need for expensive equipment?

If you require industrial quantities then it would almost certainly be cheaper to buy industrially.

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Yes, but I'm sometimes involved in projects that help poverty stricken areas, so our budget is limited. It'll be rather neat to leave the locals with knowledge that will make them self-sufficient (the carboxylic acid has done pretty well, but I want to see if I can do even better).

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11 hours ago, gatewood said:

So my question is this: do you know of any acids that are (relatively) easy and/or cheap to mass produce, without much need for expensive equipment and/or feedstocks?

Production of a high quality pure product most often requires distillation and/or vacuum distillation to remove impurities.

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1 minute ago, Sensei said:

Production of a high quality pure product most often requires distillation and/or vacuum distillation to remove impurities.

A matter of indifference to the agricultural community.

12 hours ago, gatewood said:

So far, I've managed to mass produce glacial acetic acid

How?

Anyway, I'd avoid the use of hydrochloric acid; the chloride ion tends to build up in soil and "poison" the plants.

If there was a "cheap" way to make, for example, sulphuric acid, then the people who make sulphuric acid would already be using it.
So it's unlikely that you could make it much cheaper.

I vaguely wonder what would happen if you mixed powdered pyrites into the soil. It might oxidise to sulphate (slowly) .An interesting experiment; but with no guarantee that it works or even that it's cheap.

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12 hours ago, gatewood said:

Yes, but I'm sometimes involved in projects that help poverty stricken areas, so our budget is limited. It'll be rather neat to leave the locals with knowledge that will make them self-sufficient (the carboxylic acid has done pretty well, but I want to see if I can do even better).

I'm a bit mystified by all this. Surely the chloralkali process yields NaOH, not acid, doesn't it?

And when you speak of carboxylic acids, which ones are you talking about and what are you digesting anaerobically to produce them?  And what are you using mother of vinegar with, to convert it to acetic acid?

Sorry for so many questions.

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Posted (edited)

You can make water acid (up to pH=2.4) by electrolysis in a vessel with a membrane. Such acidic water is called anolyte.

Personally, I regularly make such water at home and use it as an antiseptic instead of chlorhexidine

Edited by SergUpstart
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20 minutes ago, SergUpstart said:

You can make water acid (up to pH=2.4) by electrolysis in a vessel with a membrane. Such acidic water is called anolyte.

Personally, I regularly make such water at home and use it as an antiseptic instead of chlorhexidine

You need a salt (NaCl) solution for that, as you are making hypochlorous acid (HOCl).

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, exchemist said:

You need a salt (NaCl) solution for that, as you are making hypochlorous acid (HOCl).

In ordinary tap water, there is both Na and Cl in sufficient quantities.

Edited by SergUpstart
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47 minutes ago, SergUpstart said:

In ordinary tap water, there is both Na and Cl in sufficient quantities.

Not where I am.

In the EU there's a limit of 200 mg/ l for sodium in drinking water.

That's about 8 mMol per liter
If you electrolytically exchanged all of that for H+ ions you would get a pH of about 2.1, so a pH of 2.4 means you are close to the limit for good drinking water.

My tap water has about a tenth of that much- corresponding to a pH of about 3.1

1 hour ago, SergUpstart said:

use it as an antiseptic instead of chlorhexidine

Is there any evidence that it works?

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10 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:
1 hour ago, SergUpstart said:

use it as an antiseptic instead of chlorhexidine

Is there any evidence that it works?

ANOLYTE NEUTRAL (ANC)

ECO-FRIENDLY DISINFECTANT

Description: Transparent colorless liquid with a faint characteristic smell of chlorine.

Composition: The active substance of the product is a mixture of highly active metastable (electrochemically activated) oxidants, the concentration of which in terms of active chlorine ranges from 0.02% to 0.08%. The total concentration of dissolved substances is 2.0 g / dm. The pH of the product is 2.0-8.6.

Anolit ANK perfectly combines all the qualities that must be inherent in every dezsredstvu:

Anolyte ANC has a high antimicrobial activity against all pathogenic microorganisms, including spores.
Anolyte ANC has disinfecting and sterilizing properties.
Anolite ANK has a washing ability that allows you to combine the stage of pre-sterilization cleaning and sterilization.
Anolit ANK is a universal solution and is used for disinfection, pre-sterilization cleaning and sterilization of medical products, as well as for general cleaning of premises, disinfection of equipment in medical institutions, clothing, surgeon's hands, etc.
An ANC anolyte eliminates the possibility of developing resistance to it by pathogenic microorganisms during any long and continuous period, which is caused by the metastability of the active substances of the anolyte.
Anolyte ANC has a minimum toxicity class (IV) for inhalation and enteral effects, skin-resorptive and irritant effects are absent. It is approved for use in maternity wards and children's institutions.
Anolyte ANC can be applied by wiping, irrigation, soaking and spraying.
The low concentration of active substances in the ANC anolyte, together with its high speed, ensures that there is no aggressive effect on various materials.
Anolita ANK is an environmentally friendly product, as it does not leave traces after processing objects, and the active substances of anolita completely spontaneously degrade to drinking weakly mineralized water.
An ANC anolyte can be used to treat objects in the presence of patients.
An anolyte ANC is a ready-made solution that is easy to obtain with the help of on-site installations in the field of application in the required quantities.
The shelf life of an anolyte with the preservation of the sterilizing ability is 30 days, disinfecting for more than a year
The low cost of AN ANC anolyte compared to other dezsredstvami is an indicator of efficiency and quick payback.

In Russia, the antiseptic anolite was widely sold in supermarkets during the COVID-19 epidemic

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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, SergUpstart said:

ANOLYTE NEUTRAL (ANC)

ECO-FRIENDLY DISINFECTANT

Description: Transparent colorless liquid with a faint characteristic smell of chlorine.

Composition: The active substance of the product is a mixture of highly active metastable (electrochemically activated) oxidants, the concentration of which in terms of active chlorine ranges from 0.02% to 0.08%. The total concentration of dissolved substances is 2.0 g / dm. The pH of the product is 2.0-8.6.

Anolit ANK perfectly combines all the qualities that must be inherent in every dezsredstvu:

Anolyte ANC has a high antimicrobial activity against all pathogenic microorganisms, including spores.
Anolyte ANC has disinfecting and sterilizing properties.
Anolite ANK has a washing ability that allows you to combine the stage of pre-sterilization cleaning and sterilization.
Anolit ANK is a universal solution and is used for disinfection, pre-sterilization cleaning and sterilization of medical products, as well as for general cleaning of premises, disinfection of equipment in medical institutions, clothing, surgeon's hands, etc.
An ANC anolyte eliminates the possibility of developing resistance to it by pathogenic microorganisms during any long and continuous period, which is caused by the metastability of the active substances of the anolyte.
Anolyte ANC has a minimum toxicity class (IV) for inhalation and enteral effects, skin-resorptive and irritant effects are absent. It is approved for use in maternity wards and children's institutions.
Anolyte ANC can be applied by wiping, irrigation, soaking and spraying.
The low concentration of active substances in the ANC anolyte, together with its high speed, ensures that there is no aggressive effect on various materials.
Anolita ANK is an environmentally friendly product, as it does not leave traces after processing objects, and the active substances of anolita completely spontaneously degrade to drinking weakly mineralized water.
An ANC anolyte can be used to treat objects in the presence of patients.
An anolyte ANC is a ready-made solution that is easy to obtain with the help of on-site installations in the field of application in the required quantities.
The shelf life of an anolyte with the preservation of the sterilizing ability is 30 days, disinfecting for more than a year
The low cost of AN ANC anolyte compared to other dezsredstvami is an indicator of efficiency and quick payback.

In Russia, the antiseptic anolite was widely sold in supermarkets during the COVID-19 epidemic

Hmm, if it has 2g/l of dissolved substances, that does not look to me like anything one could derive from tap water alone.

This all feels a bit scammy to me.

Edited by exchemist
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15 minutes ago, exchemist said:

Hmm, if it has 2g/l of dissolved substances, that does not look to me like anything one could derive from tap water alone.

This all feels a bit scammy to me.

It is quite possible that the anolyte on sale is made not only from tap water. I make an anolyte for personal consumption only from tap water. I recently had two teeth removed and implanted. The doctor recommended rinsing with chlorhexidine, but I used an anolyte of my own making. It helped a lot.

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1 hour ago, SergUpstart said:

It is quite possible that the anolyte on sale is made not only from tap water. I make an anolyte for personal consumption only from tap water. I recently had two teeth removed and implanted. The doctor recommended rinsing with chlorhexidine, but I used an anolyte of my own making. It helped a lot.

...by which you mean you didn't get an infection, I suppose.

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19 hours ago, SergUpstart said:

It helped a lot.

How do you know it wasn't  simply that your immune system did its job?
Dilute solutions of chlorine (prepared electrolytically or otherwise) are certainly antibacterial.

20 hours ago, SergUpstart said:

The pH of the product is 2.0-8.6.

So, nearly a million fold range of H+ concentration. Doesn't look like the sort of quality control I would like for a medical product.

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23 hours ago, SergUpstart said:

You can make water acid (up to pH=2.4) by electrolysis in a vessel with a membrane. Such acidic water is called anolyte.

21 hours ago, SergUpstart said:

The pH of the product is 2.0-8.6.

Something seems to be lost in translation here.

How is a pH of 8.6 acidic ?

More to the point is this all not off the original purpose of making acids for agricultural purposes of modifying soil not making a bactericidal wipe or spray?

I say this because I looked round at 'anolyte' and found some western companies offering hard to believe claims without any evidence, as well as some eastern european (including russian) sources.

So it would seem to me that that particular subject deserves a thread all of its own as any acid of this type has no known agricultural use.

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2 hours ago, studiot said:

More to the point is this all not off the original purpose of making acids for agricultural purposes of modifying soil not making a bactericidal wipe or spray?

Watering with catholyte or anolyte can be used to regulate the acidity of the soil. And washing the fruit with anolyte should, in theory, increase their shelf life.

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1 minute ago, SergUpstart said:

And washing the fruit with anolyte should, in theory, increase their shelf life.

Perhaps that's why my carrots from the supermarket go black so quickly, I often wonder what they wash them in.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, studiot said:

Perhaps that's why my carrots from the supermarket go black so quickly, I often wonder what they wash them in.

2 minutes ago, geordief said:

Maybe just washing them at all ,even in water causes them to go black.(esp if any kind of abrasion is employed)

Might  it remove some kind of coating?

If I wash my own* carrots in the house I would only wash enough for that evening...and keep them in any wrapping so they don't dry out.

* I mean carrots I have brought home from the shop.I don't have any from the garden yet.

Edited by geordief
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Posted (edited)
On 6/3/2021 at 1:08 AM, exchemist said:

I'm a bit mystified by all this. Surely the chloralkali process yields NaOH, not acid, doesn't it?

And when you speak of carboxylic acids, which ones are you talking about and what are you digesting anaerobically to produce them?  And what are you using mother of vinegar with, to convert it to acetic acid?

Sorry for so many questions.

It does, but it also frees the chlorine and hydrogen gases, which I then react to make the hydrochloric acid, which can be rather dangerous (just added the comment, I long ago ceased to make HCl this way, though it may have some potential in farms close to the sea).

I make sugar using cellulolytic microorganisms to hydrolize cellulose (we usually get a lot of wood chips, since the projects use local wood to make structures). The resulting sugars are brewed to make ethanol, then the acetobacter are fed with the ethanol to make acetic acid. It may look like a lot of steps, but really, only big vessels are required to make the few batches needed, to ammend the soil (it does a better job at acidifying than composting the sugars).

Carboxylic acids, or more specifically, citric and gluconic acids, are produced using aspergillus nigger, which is also a cellulolytic fungus, meaning, it can feed on lignocellulosic biomass (though we aid it with a previous fermentation using trichoderma reesei), so a lot of cleared weeds, bushes and trees are the perfect feedstock for batch production.

Anyhow, do you people have any useful answers yet?

Edited by gatewood
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On 6/2/2021 at 8:45 PM, gatewood said:

I've managed to mass produce glacial acetic acid

What do you think the word "glacial" means in this context?

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, gatewood said:

It does, but it also frees the chlorine and hydrogen gases, which I then react to make the hydrochloric acid, which can be rather dangerous (just added the comment, I long ago ceased to make HCl this way, though it may have some potential in farms close to the sea).

I make sugar using cellulolytic microorganisms to hydrolize cellulose (we usually get a lot of wood chips, since the projects use local wood to make structures). The resulting sugars are brewed to make ethanol, then the acetobacter are fed with the ethanol to make acetic acid. It may look like a lot of steps, but really, only big vessels are required to make the few batches needed, to ammend the soil (it does a better job at acidifying than composting the sugars).

Carboxylic acids, or more specifically, citric and gluconic acids, are produced using aspergillus nigger, which is also a cellulolytic fungus, meaning, it can feed on lignocellulosic biomass (though we aid it with a previous fermentation using trichoderma reesei), so a lot of cleared weeds, bushes and trees are the perfect feedstock for batch production.

Anyhow, do you people have any useful answers yet?

Thanks for the information - very interesting to see how you have approached this. You have clearly gone to a lot of trouble.

I don't pretend to be expert on agricultural chemistry, unfortunately. Also, it's a little hard to know what would meet your needs, as you have not indicated any cost per tonne limit, where the sites of concern to you are in the world, or what materials you, or they, have to hand.

However, shooting in the dark a bit, elemental sulphur and gypsum seem both to be used to reduce soil alkalinity. I also use FeSO4 in my garden (to grow calcifuge plants such as camellias), but I have no idea whether it is used on large scales. But you may already know this and have dismissed these for one reason or another.

Bulk sulphur is quite cheap, being a byproduct of oil refinery desulphurisation of fuel. Current price seems to be < $100/mt in sacks, though it will be more by the time someone has shipped it to a useful destination. P.S. Just found this, which discusses sulphur - and FeSO4, so evidently that can have applications at the agricultural scale: https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/files/Lowering_Soil_pH_with_Sulfur.pdf Edited by exchemist ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites Posted (edited) 6 hours ago, John Cuthber said: What do you think the word "glacial" means in this context? Concentrated acetic acid. Its made using freezing distillation. 3 hours ago, exchemist said: Thanks for the information - very interesting to see how you have approached this. You have clearly gone to a lot of trouble. I don't pretend to be expert on agricultural chemistry, unfortunately. Also, it's a little hard to know what would meet your needs, as you have not indicated any cost per tonne limit, where the sites of concern to you are in the world, or what materials you, or they, have to hand. However, shooting in the dark a bit, elemental sulphur and gypsum seem both to be used to reduce soil alkalinity. I also use FeSO4 in my garden (to grow calcifuge plants such as camellias), but I have no idea whether it is used on large scales. But you may already know this and have dismissed these for one reason or another. Bulk sulphur is quite cheap, being a byproduct of oil refinery desulphurisation of fuel. Current price seems to be <$100/mt in sacks, though it will be more by the time someone has shipped it to a useful destination.

P.S. Just found this, which discusses sulphur  - and FeSO4, so evidently that can have applications at the agricultural scale: https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/files/Lowering_Soil_pH_with_Sulfur.pdf

Yes, this is exactly the concepts I'm looking for. I wasn't aware of the use of FeSO4, most appreciated input lad

I didn't provide an exact benchmark, because I'm looking for a broad range of ideas and concepts to explore (I've developed my methods myself), so it doesn't really matter to me how far off what you may propose, may be, I only look for you guys to share it (with the proper sources if possible)... if you would.

Edited by gatewood
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44 minutes ago, gatewood said:

Concentrated acetic acid. Its made using freezing distillation.

What you seem to be doing is making a crude vinegar as a source of acid by leaching plant material and then "fermenting" it to glucose, then ethanol, then acetic acid.
If you apply that directly to the soil, various bacteria will oxidise the acetic acid (to CO2) and you will essentially have added anything water soluble from the plant waste.
That's likely to include essentially potash and will make the soil alkaline rather than acid.

But I would have thought the cost of purifying the dilute acid was more than the cost of buying something like (NH4)2SO4

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, John Cuthber said:

What you seem to be doing is making a crude vinegar as a source of acid by leaching plant material and then "fermenting" it to glucose, then ethanol, then acetic acid.
If you apply that directly to the soil, various bacteria will oxidise the acetic acid (to CO2) and you will essentially have added anything water soluble from the plant waste.
That's likely to include essentially potash and will make the soil alkaline rather than acid.

But I would have thought the cost of purifying the dilute acid was more than the cost of buying something like (NH4)2SO4

Well no, if added to lye rich soils, it protonates them and it immediately decomposes and neutralizes the basic minerals (if sufficiently alkaline, the reaction will sometimes even be slightly noticeable). I mean, we're basically adding vinegar to the soil, and most of the alkaline metals in the biomass have already been taken up by the microorganisms that fermented it (ashes compose about 1% of the mass of wood).

We generally don't concentrate it, unless we previously produce it and then transport it to the site. I mentioned that we want to leave the locals with self-sufficient techniques and processes, if I'm inquiring for your knowledge, please, it is because I want to see what else is there to potentially try and experiment with, besides "look for it in the store".

Anyhow, the production of carboxylic acids have mostly phased out the use of acetic acid.

Edited by gatewood

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