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Discovery Edit

Sulfur has been known since ancient times. It is mentioned 15 times in the Bible, and was best known for destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. It was also known to the ancient Greeks, and burnt as a fumigant. Louis-Josef Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jacques Thénard proved it to be an element in 1809. The name is thought to be derived from either the Sanskrit 'sulvere', or the Latin 'sulfurium'.

Quick Facts Edit

Name: Sulfur

Symbol: S

Mass: 32.066

Atomic Number: 16

Electron Configuration: [Ne] 3s2 3p4

Classification: non-metal

CAS Number: 7704-34-9

Appearance: Generally appears as yellow crystals or a yellow powder.

Discovery in: ancient times

Key Isotopes: 32S

Allotropes: α-S, β-S, S2, S3, cyclo-S8

Density: 2.07 g/L

Crystal Structure: orthorhombic (α-S), monoclinic (β-S)

Melting Point: 115.21 °C

Boiling Point: 444.61 °C

Uses Edit

Sulfur is mostly used in the production of sulfuric acid, which is perhaps the most important chemical manufactured by western civilizations. The most important of sulfuric acid’s many uses is in the extraction of phosphate for fertilizer. Sulfur is used in the vulcanization of black rubber, as a fungicide and in black gunpowder. Sulfites are used to bleach paper and as preservatives for many foodstuffs. Many surfactants and detergents are sulfate derivatives. Calcium sulfate, gypsum, is mined on the scale of 100 million tons each year for use in cement and plaster.

Sulfur is essential to all living things. It is taken up as sulfate from the soil (or sea water) by plants and algae and used to make two of the essential amino acids needed for protein formation. It is also needed in some co-enzymes. Sulfur is non-toxic as the element and in the form of the sulfate, but carbon disulfide, hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide are all toxic, especially hydrogen sulfide which can cause death by respiratory paralysis. Sulfur dioxide is produced when coal and unpurified oil are burned and is largely responsible for so called ‘acid rain’ which can cause lakes to die partly by enabling toxic aluminium salts to become soluble. The average human contains 140 grams and takes in about 1 gram a day.

Atomic Data Edit

Atomic radius: 1.800 Å

Covalent radius: 1.04 Å

Electronegativity: 2.580

Electron affinity: 200.4 kJ mol-1

Ionisation energies

First: 999.588 kJ mol-1

Second: 2251.761 kJ mol-1

Third: 3356.722 kJ mol-1

Fourth: 4556.227 kJ mol-1

Fifth: 7004.299 kJ mol-1

Sixth: 8495.816 kJ mol-1

Seventh: 27107.340 kJ mol-1

Eighth: 31719.528 kJ mol-1

Supply Risk Edit

Scarcity factor: 3.5 (low risk)

Crustal abundance: 404 ppm

Reserve base distribution: n/a

Production concentration: 17.4%

Top 3 countries for mining: n/a

Top 3 countries for production:

  1. China
  2. USA
  3. Canada

Oxidation States and Isotopes Edit

Common oxidation states: 6, 4, 2, -2


Isotope Atomic mass Abundance (%) Half life Mode of decay
32S 31.972 94.99
33S 32.971 0.75
34S 32.968 4.25
36S 35.967 0.01

Pressure and Temperature Data Edit

Molar heat capacity: 22.7 J mol-1 K-1

See Also Edit

  Search for Sulfur on Wikipedia.