This is a research paper that discusses the history of the City North Campus, Barr, Birmingham B42 2SU by finding out if there have been any industrial use on the site which can be a good reason for the site to be contaminated. After the determination of the site contamination, there is need to evaluate of ways on which the contaminations can be removed through industrial remediation methods on this particular site.
The factory which was located in the present day City North Campus, Barr, Birmingham B42 2SU was the Lead Chamber process factory which was used in the production of sulphuric acid in huge quantities. The factory began its operation in 1746 by Roebuck John for the production of sulphuric acids in the chambers of lead which was less expensive and much stronger. The lead could be manufactured on a larger scale than the containers made of glass which used to be utilized previously. This industry enabled efficient sulphuric acid industrialization and with numerous refinement, this process persisted to be the standard production method for approximately two centuries (Scott, 2013).
The production of sulphuric acid was huge that as late as in the year 1946, the process of chamber still counted for 25% of manufactured sulphuric acid. During the manufacture of sulphuric acid in the Lead Chamber Process, Sulphur dioxide is fed into the huge chambers together with nitrogen oxide and steam, the chambers are lined with the sheet of lead where the spaying of gases is done with chamber acid and water. The nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide dissolve for a duration of about 30 minutes leading to the oxidation of sulphur dioxide to sulphuric acid (Sereda, 2011).
The nitrogen dioxide presence is critical for the continuation of reaction at a rate that is reasonable. This process is very exothermic and a primary consideration of the chamber's design was to give away is which heat formed from the reaction can be dissipated. Each plant utilized huge chambers of lead-lined wood where cooling takes place by the use of ambient air. In the 19th century, places used a volume of the approximately ½ cubic meter to process the sulphur dioxide equal to one-kilogram sulphur burned (Scott, 2013).
During the initial manufacturing period, nitrogen oxides were manufactured through the process of decomposing niter at the extreme temperature in the presence of acid, however, this process was supplanted gradually by oxidation of ammonia to nitric acid by air in the presence of a catalysis. In the chamber of reaction, nitrogen dioxide is produced when oxygen reacts with nitric acid. The liquid at the chamber’s bottom is pumped and diluted to the top of the chamber and spayed down in a fine mist (Sereda, 2011).
Contaminations of Lead Chamber Process that still affects the City North Campus, Barr, Birmingham B42 2SU
The contamination of the sulphuric acid manufacturing process by the lead chamber process in the year 1746 is still currently being observed. These contaminations range from the environmental pollution to health effects. The effects of sulphuric acid manufacture are still being observed due to the sulphur compounds that were released into the atmosphere leading to environmental contamination. The environmental contaminations have affected the wildlife, people, and livestock in and around the environs of City North Campus (Sereda, 2011).
There have been several reported cases of changes in metabolism, increased airway reactivity, increased pulmonary resistance, and immediate bronchial constriction. These effects are caused by the exposure of sulphur dioxide which was released into the environment during the manufacture of sulphuric acid by lead chamber process in 1746. The sulphur dioxide that was released into the atmosphere also causes air pollution by combining with the constituent of air. This gas will then penetrate into the breathing system due to its solubility in water. The respiratory system will be significantly damaged hence interfering with the respiratory system leading to shortening of lifespan and death (Sereda, 2011).
The sulphur compounds which are the contaminants have also been associated with acute effects such as vascular, oedema, inflammation changes. These acute effects are specifically caused by the exposure of sulphur dioxide produced by the lead chamber process in the past years but as still present in the atmosphere. The contamination of the atmosphere by these gases have also been noticed to have effects on the material when subjected to weathering process. The presence of acids caused by sulphur dioxide has been observed to be causing damage or accelerating the ageing of materials used in building many structures in City North Campus (Sereda, 2011).
The remedial actions that can be taken to remove the contamination of the sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere are majorly focused on the removal of sulphur compounds in the environment. The first step to remediation is to determine the amount of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere by the use of sulphur dioxide analyser shown below:
This device above work on the principle that sulphur dioxide absorbs radiations of UV at wavelengths between 240nm and 200nm. The fluorescence protons’ emission at extreme wavelengths follows this UV absorption by the molecule. Once the quantity of the sulphur dioxide is determined, remedial actions can be taken by removing the quantity of the sulphur compounds in the atmosphere (Sereda, 2011). The contamination can be removed through conversion of sulphur dioxide into other compounds and removing them from the atmosphere through numerous mechanisms. These mechanisms include dissolution into water, absorption by soil and vegetables, dry deposition, wet deposition, and oxidation. These processes are explained below:
Oxidation of sulphur dioxide can take place in the homogeneous gas phase where SO2 reacts with hydroxyl radial to form an acid as shown below:
Other mechanisms of oxidation include direct photooxidation of SO2, oxidation by reactive intermediaries generated thermally, and oxidation by reactive intermediaries generated by photochemical (Sereda, 2011).
Dry and Wet Deposition
Washout processes are responsible for removal of sulphur dioxide in the clouds through the formation of particles of sulphate. The processes of rainout involve particles interception by diffusional uptake and falling rainfall of SO2. The SO2 removal by wet deposition is dependent on numerous factors such as quantity of SO2, frequency, duration, intensity, and type of precipitation (Sereda, 2011).
This research paper discusses the previous industrial use of City North Campus which could have led to contamination of the site. The factory which was located in the present day City North Campus, Barr, Birmingham B42 2SU was the Lead Chamber process factory which was used in the production of sulphuric acid in huge quantities. The sulphur compounds which are the contaminants have also been associated with acute effects such as vascular, oedema, inflammation changes. The remediation that can be implemented to minimize this contamination includes dissolution into water, absorption by soil and vegetables, dry deposition, wet deposition, and oxidation.
Scott, H., 2013. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: From Pollution to Climate Change. Michigan: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Sereda, P., 2011. Weather Factors Affecting the Corrosion of Metals. In Environments. Michigan: American Society for Testing and Materials.