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Properties and Uses of Hydrobromic Acid

Properties and Uses of Hydrobromic Acid

Hydrobromic acid is one of the strongest acid. It is even stronger than hydrochloric acid. It is used widely in various processes. This article deals with its properties, uses, and its production.
Shashank Nakate
One of the strongest known mineral acids, hydrobromic acid is formed by dissolving hydrogen bromide in H2O, i.e., water. Its formula is 'Hbr'. It is also known as Acide bromhydrique, Acido bromidrico, Bromwasserstoff, Bromowodor, Hydrogenbromid, Bromure d'hydrogene, and Bromuro de hidrogeno.

It can be prepared in laboratories with water, SO2, and Br2.

Br2+SO2+2 H2O→H2SO4+2HBr

In most of the cases, anhydrous Hbr is prepared first and then dissolved in water. Apart from the industrial method of carrying out the reaction between phosphorus, sulfur, and water to produce hydrobromic acid, the electrolytic process is also used.

Properties of Hydrobromic Acid
  • Its color can vary from clear/colorless to pale yellow, and it exhibits a pungent odor.
  • Its boiling point is 122 °C, while the melting point is -11 °C.
  • It has the specific gravity of 1.5, and is termed as an infinitely soluble liquid.
  • This form of acid is stable at room temperature and can be easily stored without any kind of problem. On exposure to light or air, it changes its color and becomes darker in shade.
  • It gives rise to a violent chemical reaction when it comes in contact with ammonia, fluorine gas, ozone, alkalis, ferric oxide, strong oxidizing agents, and metals.
  • Toxic fumes of bromide are formed if it is heated to the point of decomposition.
  • Its acid dissociation constant is -9, which makes it stronger than hydrochloric acid.
  • It is not compatible with zinc, copper, brass, and moisture.
  • Its density is 12.5 at 20 °C.

It is available for sale in the market. The concentrations at which this acid is available are 48% and 62%.
  • It is used in the hydrobromination of olefins.
  • It is also used for synthesizing alkyl bromides with the help of alcohol.
  • Inorganic bromides are synthesized with its help.
  • It acts as a catalyst in the oxidation process, where alicyclic and aliphatic hydrocarbons are converted into peroxides, ketones, and acids.
  • It is also used in industrial processes like polymerization, isomerization, dehydration, hydration, and esterification.
Handling Precautions

Hydrobromic acid is termed as a corrosive liquid and it can burn body tissues. Upon contact, irritation is caused to the respiratory tract and eyes. Inhalation or swallowing can lead to fatal consequences. It is recommended to open the Hbr container in a room that has proper ventilation. One should wash his hands thoroughly after using this acid. In case the acid comes in contact with the eyes, flushing with plenty of water is recommended; which should be done for minimum of 15 minutes. If a person has by mistake, swallowed hydrobromic acid, he should be given water in large quantities. The affected person should never be induced to vomit.