7 Steps of Extracting Sulfur | The Frasch Process
Elemental sulfur comes from deposits in the ground. Sulfur has two physical properties that are used in the extraction process. Those are low melting point and low density. The extraction process is called The Frasch process. There are basically seven steps to how it works. The steps aren’t very complicated, so we’re going to go ahead and dive right in. Starting out, a well is drilled into the soil for mineral deposit.
After that well is drilled, superheated water is pumped into the deposit. This superheated water is usually heated to around 170 degrees Celsius, which is about 340 degrees Fahrenheit. That water is pumped down into the deposit. As a result of that, the hot water melts the sulfur in the deposit. Remember earlier I talked about two physical properties of sulfur that are useful in the extraction process. The first was its low melting point.
You’ve already seen that come into play. The low melting point of sulfur allows for the water to melt that sulfur. Remember that, although this is melted, the sulfur it is still down in that deposit. We’re trying to extract that sulfur. In addition to superheated water being pumped into the well, compressed air is going to be pumped down into the well. Because of that compressed air, the molten sulfur comes to the surface.
All that air is forcing it to the surface. Remember earlier I talked about the two physical properties. Well, the second one was low density. You’ve also seen that physical property come into play. The low density of sulfur allows compressed air to be able to push it to the surface. Now that the molten sulfur is at the surface, it can cool and solidify. From there, the sulfur forms rhombic crystal. A rhombic crystal has eight molecules. Those are the seven steps to the extraction of sulfur and what we call the Frasch process.