Copper sulfate, also known as blue vitriol, is a widely used chemical compound in agriculture, manufacturing, and medicine. As a fungicide and pesticide, it is instrumental in controlling plant diseases and pests. Its applications in the manufacturing of pigments, batteries, and electroplating make it a versatile chemical compound.
It is important to note that copper sulfate can pose health hazards if ingested or inhaled in large amounts. It can cause skin irritation and eye damage upon contact. Therefore, it should be handled with care and proper safety precautions should be taken when using it.
The chemical formula for copper sulfate is CuSO4.x H2O, indicating that it is a covalent compound comprising copper, sulfur, and oxygen. Its crystalline structure and pleasant smell are evident from its chemical composition. Figure (1) shows the molecular structure of copper sulfate.
Fig 1. Chemical structure of coper sulfate
This substance is a hydrated salt with varying amounts of water molecules, and x in the formula can range from zero to five. Copper sulfate dissolves in water during an exothermic reaction and is commonly available in two forms in the market:
- Anhydrous copper sulfate with a white color and a composition of 39/81 Cu and 60/91 SO4
- blue-colored copper sulfate with a composition of 25/47 Cu and 38/47 SO4
Figure (2) displays two different grades of copper sulfate.
Fig (2): Two different grades of copper sulfate
The copper sulfate solution is then purified and crystallized to obtain the final product.
Table of Contents
Reaction of copper oxide with sulfuric acid
In this method, copper oxide is reacted with sulfuric acid to produce copper sulfate and water. The reaction is as follows:
Cu + H2SO4 → CuSO4 + H2
The resulting copper sulfate solution is then purified and crystallized to obtain the final product.
Regardless of the production method, it is essential to ensure that the resulting copper sulfate product meets the required quality standards and is free from impurities. This can be achieved through rigorous testing and quality control measures during the manufacturing process.
It is imperative to ensure that the copper sulfate product meets the required quality standards and is devoid of any contaminants, irrespective of the production method employed. This necessitates the implementation of stringent quality control measures and thorough testing during the manufacturing process.
CuO + H2SO4 → H2O + CuSO4
Cu(OH)2 + H2SO4 → 2H2O + CuSO4
CuCOH3 + H2SO4 → H2O + CuSO4 + CO2
Applications of copper sulfate
Copper oxide is a commonly used compound in the production of copper sulfate, which finds applications in various industries including agricultural, chemical, pharmaceutical, mineral, metal, electronic and paint industries.
The use of copper sulfate in agricultural industries is particularly important, accounting for approximately 75% of the total copper sulfate produced worldwide. Copper sulfate is used in agriculture for its antimicrobial properties and to provide essential copper and sulfate elements to plants. Its role as a micronutrient is critical in enzyme activities, chlorophyll formation, photosynthesis, and metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins.
The use of copper sulfate in calcareous agricultural soils has been found to improve the growth rate and nutritional conditions of plants and agricultural products. It also helps in protecting plants against pests such as fungus and preserves the properties of fruits such as sugar content, taste, and flavor.
However, it is crucial to use copper sulfate in the right amount and at the right time to avoid poisoning and plant death. Agricultural experts should be consulted before applying the fertilizer.
Copper sulfate is also used in the preparation of antifungal solutions and insecticides used in agriculture and horticulture industries. It is also used to eliminate copper deficiency, especially in calcareous soils. Figure (3) shows the symptoms of copper deficiency in plants.
Fig (3). The symptoms of copper deficiency in plants
To ensure the quality of the copper sulfate product, stringent quality control measures and thorough testing are necessary during the manufacturing process.
Therefore, it can be said that copper sulfate as a micronutrient has a key role in the following cases in agricultural and horticultural products:
- Enzyme activities
- Formation of chlorophyll and the phenomenon of photosynthesis
- Metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins
According to the mentioned cases, it can be said that copper sulfate is used in the following cases:
- Use to prepare antifungal solutions and control fungal diseases
- Production of insecticides used in agriculture and horticulture industries
- Eliminating copper deficiency, especially in calcareous soils
Copper sulfate, also known as cupric sulfate or blue vitriol, is a chemical compound with the formula CuSO4. It is a salt that is highly soluble in water and has a blue color due to the presence of copper ions. Copper sulfate is commonly used as a fungicide, herbicide, and pesticide in agriculture, as well as in various industrial applications.
In the agricultural industry, copper sulfate is used to control fungal diseases on crops such as grapes, potatoes, and tomatoes. It is also used as a herbicide to control weeds in rice paddies and other crops. In addition, it is used as a molluscicide to control snails and other aquatic pests.
In the mining industry, copper sulfate is used as a flotation agent to separate minerals from ores. It is also used to treat wastewater from mining operations to remove heavy metals and other pollutants.
In the textile industry, copper sulfate is used in the production of rayon and other synthetic fibers. It is also used as a mordant in dyeing and printing fabrics.
In the food industry, copper sulfate is used as a nutrient supplement for livestock and poultry. It is also used as a preservative in canned fruits and vegetables.
Copper sulfate is also used in the production of batteries, as well as in electroplating and metal finishing processes. It is used as a catalyst in chemical reactions, and as a reagent in analytical chemistry.
Despite its many uses, copper sulfate can be toxic if ingested or inhaled. It can cause skin irritation, eye irritation, and respiratory problems. Proper handling and storage are essential to ensure safety in all industries that use copper sulfate.
The chemical industry commonly utilizes copper sulfate as a reagent in various chemical reactions. For instance, it is used in Benedict’s solution to test reducing sugars and in the synthesis of organic substances. Copper sulfate anhydrous salt acts as a dehydration agent to form and change acetal groups, while the combination of copper sulfate aqueous salt with potassium permanganate is used to produce an oxidation agent for the oxidation of alcohols of the first type.
Moreover, copper sulfate is produced from the reaction of copper sulfate with hydroxyammonium tetraamine, which dissolves cellulose in the industrial production of rayon.
In the medical industry, copper sulfate is used to determine the level of anemia. A drop of blood is poured into a solution of copper sulfate, and if the blood has sufficient hemoglobin, it settles quickly in the solution. However, if the hemoglobin level is insufficient, the blood remains on the surface of the liquid or settles slowly.
Copper sulfate is also utilized in swimming pool water treatment due to its anti-algae and anti-parasitic properties. Algae can reduce the quality of water, making it unsuitable for consumption, even in agriculture.
Copper sulfate is used in both swimming pools and fish breeding pools to prevent the growth of algae and parasites.
While copper sulfate has advantages such as being a cost-effective fertilizer, excessive and unprofessional use can lead to nausea, damage to blood cells, and kidney and liver problems. Overuse in pools has resulted in carp death and soil poisoning.
The global market for buying copper sulfate
Investigations of the reports presented regarding copper sulfate show that the global market of copper sulfate is currently increasing continuously, the reason for this can be attributed to the continuous increase in the population in the world and the increasing demand for industries and agricultural products. According to the reports, the amount of copper sulfate consumption in 2020 has reached 406.8 kilotons, and it is expected to have an average growth of about 5% in the next five-year period.
Russia is known as the largest exporter of copper sulfate chemical in the world and it is estimated that about 20% of the total export of this substance in the world is carried out by this country. The largest importers of copper sulfate in the world are:
Storage conditions and safety tips for working with copper sulfate
Copper sulfate is one of the toxic and dangerous compounds for humans. Also, due to its high reactivity, copper sulfate should be kept away from any chemical substances, especially acidic substances, and the storage of copper sulfate should be placed in a cool, dry environment and away from any source of heat.
For those who are continuously exposed to copper sulfate or farmers who use this substance continuously, the risk of developing liver disease may increase. Also, exposure to copper sulfate leads to poisoning, and its symptoms include:
- Burning sensation in the chest or abdomen
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Excessive sweating