Oxoacids Of Sulphur

Oxoacids are basically the acids that contain oxygen. Sulphur is known to form many oxoacids, for example H2SO4, H2SO3, etc. In oxoacids of sulphur, sulphur exhibits a tetrahedral structure when coordinated to oxygen. Generally, oxoacids of sulphur contain at least one S=O bond and one S-OH bond. Terminal peroxide groups, terminal S=S, terminal and bridging oxygen atoms and chains of (-S-)n are also observed in addition to S=S and S-OH. Some popular oxoacids of sulphur and their properties are given below:


Sulphuric acid H2SO4

Sulphuric acid is the most popular among the oxoacids of sulphur. It is a diprotic acid that is, it ionizes to give two protons. In sulphuric acid, one atom of sulphur is bonded to two hydroxyl groups and the rest two oxygen atoms form pie bonds with the sulphur atom. Thus, sulphuric acid exhibits tetrahedral geometry. As the bond length of sulphur oxygen bond (S=O) is smaller in comparison to the bond length of S-OH, OH groups are repelled by the oxygen atoms. Hence, the bond angle of O=S=O bond is larger than the HO-S-OH bond angle. Industrially, it is produced by the contact process.

Sulphurous acid, H2SO3

Sulphurous acid is a diprotic acid that is, it ionizes two protons. In sulphurous acid, one atom of sulphur is bonded to two hydroxyl groups and one oxygen atom forms a pie bond with the sulphur atom. It is prepared by dissolving sulfur dioxide in water. Although, we don’t have any evidence of the existence of sulphurous acid in solution phase, the molecule can be isolated in the gaseous phase.


Peroxodisulphuric acid H2S2O8

Peroxodisulphuric acid contains sulphur in +6 oxidation state. Thus, it is a strong oxidizing agent and highly explosive in nature. It is popularly known as Marshall’s acid. It contains one peroxide group forming a bridge between the two sulphur atoms. Each sulphur atom is connected to one hydroxyl group (S-OH bond) and two oxygen atoms (S=O bond)other than the peroxide group.


It is prepared by the reaction of the chlorosulfuric acid with hydrogen peroxide:

2ClSO3H + H2O2 → H2S2O8 + 2 HCl

For detailed discussions on structures of oxoacids of sulphur, please visit Byju’s.

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