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Sodium Sulfate Anhydrous
White, crystalline powder; orthorhombic or hexagonal structure; hygroscopic; refractive index 1.68; hardness 2.8 Mohs; density 2.664 g/cm3; melts at 884degC; soluble in water, insoluble in ethanol.
Biological and Chemical Applications: Anhydrous sodium sulfate is used in various reagents, as well as to prepare other sodium salts. It is also used as a drying agent in organic synthesis.
The Mannheim process manufactures sodium sulfate by reaction of NaCl with sulfuric acid in a fluidized-bed reactor or a furnace designed for this purpose. This process is no longer used in the United States, but is still used in many countries around the world.
Other processes that produce sodium sulfate include the Hargreaves process and the Leblanc process. The Hargreaves process involves the reaction of SO2, O2 and water with sodium chloride in a chemical reactor; this process is no longer used in the United States, however, it is widely used elsewhere.
Sodium sulfate is naturally occurring in saline lakes and brines throughout the world, and is produced as a by-product of manufacturing other sodium salts. Natural sodium sulfate is mined from the Great Salt Lake in Utah and California, while synthetic sodium sulfate is manufactured as a by-product of various industrial processes.
Sodium sulfate is a common ingredient in household laundry detergents and is found in most packaged foods. It is a key ingredient in the Kraft process of paper pulping and is used in manufacturing glass and ultramarine. Sodium sulfate is also a component of synthetic detergents and has an important use in the standardization of dyes.