Acid rain is a variation of rain or any sorts of precipitation that is acidic and has elevated levels of hydrogen ions which result in a low pH. Acid rain form as a result of burning fossil fuels like coal oil and gas which provide energy and power, during the burning of these fuels sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) are emitted into the air and react with water molecules within our atmosphere forming sulfuric and nitric acid (H2SO4) and (HNO3) which mix in rain clouds and come back down as what we call acid rain. Acid rain causes harmful on our environment and specifically within plants and aquatic animals in regions life forests, soils and in freshwaters, which can often result in the deaths of insects, aquatic life and also in more urban environments causing paint to peel and metals to corrode. As stated above acid rain has negative impacts on various different environments. Aquatic environments is what I will be specifically focusing on, because the acidity causes the water in lakes streams and ponds to become more acidic and alter the environment that many organisms are accustomed to. When these freshwater environments become too acidic they become prone to absorbing toxic substances such as aluminium soil, this results in death of aquatic life as they aren’t able to tolerate the acidity and the toxic substances. Since these are freshwater the natural pH levels of these aquatic areas is between 6-8 and when the levels are anything lower than that then it is too acidic for the aquatic life.
H2SO4 + Al2(SO4)3 > Al2(SO4)3 + H2CO3 is the reaction of soluble Aluminium hydroxide and carbonic acid being formed from the acidic soil through hydrolysis. This is what causes the death in the aquatic life and is harmful as it causes the fish to choke due to excessive production of mucus which blocks their gills preventing them from being able to breathe. The more acidic soils and waters also results in less production of bacterias which helps with the growth of trees and plants by providing nutrients as well as necessary calcium for healthy fish.the pollutants that create this acid rain can also be very harmful to humans although acid rain is not directly harmful carbon monoxide can cause sickness and even death if there are large enough doseages. https://www3.
epa.gov/acidrain/education/site_students/whatcauses.html https://youtu.be/Nf8cuvl62Vc The way this that this all happens and the fossil fuels is let out into the atmosphere is through the combustion of the products stated above like coal and oils in power plants and factories that release smokes and toxins into the air to create electricity and metals. This smoke from the coals and oils becomes carbon dioxide and forms with the clouds as stated above. The reaction for the combustion of these fossil fuels follows as C + O2 > CO2 and because coal and oils contain Sulfur atoms there is also S + O2 > SO2. Because oils are hydrocarbons in these reactions there can also be water H2O due to the fact that there is H+ ions.
SO2 is what will primarily be focused on since that is what produces acid rain however CO2 also has a harmful impact on the environment as it produces greenhouse gases. SO2 however is what produces acid rain as when it reacts with the oxygen once leaving the plant it forms Sulfur trioxide SO3 which when dissolved into the rainwater through the process of hydrolysis become sulfuric acid H2SO4 which would make acid rain. Because there is such an issue with acid rain being harmful to the environment there are several effective ways to reduces or prevent such harmful compounds being released to make the acid rain.
https://www3.epa.gov/acidrain/education/site_students/beingdone.html One such way is by using coal that contains less Sulfur and also washing the coal before it is burnt to reduce the amount of Sulfur there is on the coal. There is also equipment that can be used called washers that can be installed in power plants to remove Sulfur dioxide that comes out of the pipes as smoke. There is another way to reduce the amount of pollution caused and prevent acid rain which is by using renewable sources of energy.
Instead of using fossil fuels for energy using wind, solar and hydro power, will be better for the environment as the don’t produce the compounds that fossil fuels do.http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/21c/air_quality/improving_air_qualityrev2.shtml Another process by which you can reduce the harmful compounds let off in power plants and factories is through desulfurization, which is where the pipes within the factories that let off the smoke containing the Sulfur dioxide are coated with limestone which is alkaline and neutralises the acidity of Sulfur dioxide. There are several example of this process one of which is using seawater which contains sodium carbonate to create a reaction that produces sodium bisulfite and carbon dioxide.
The reaction for this process follows as 2SO2 + NACO3 + H2O > 2NaHSO3 + CO2 There are examples within New Zealand that show us producing huge amounts of coal for powers and there are examples of nz using renewable energy as well. I’ll firstly start with the Waikato region of New Zealand that has 5 of the 18 operating coal mines in the country producing 700,000 tonnes of the countries coal. With this 20% of the country’s energy comes from fossil fuels also that ? of this winters energy was produced from burning coal and gas. However 80% of the country’s energy comes from renewable sources making is one of the lowest carbon dioxide emitting countries in the world. Despite this the country still has a long way to go and can reduce our contribution to the production of acid rain by even more as seen with the amount of coal that is still being used.
We are beginning to do so with Gisborne having a community come together to talk about the ways the can reduce our pollutants to the environment.https://www.solarcity.co.nz/blog/global-solar-stories/solar-leads-global-growth-trillions-spent-on-fossil-fuel-subsidies/ https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_New_Zealand