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Sulfur Mustard

  • Page ID
    345
  • [ "article:topic", "Sulfur Mustard", "Levinstein process", "Meyer-Clarke method", "Meyer method", "Depretz method", "authorname:hardisonr" ]

    Sulfur mustard is a type of chemical warfare agent. These kinds of agents cause blistering of the skin and mucous membranes on contact. They are called vesicants or blistering agents. Sulfur mustard is also known as “mustard gas or mustard agent,” or by the military designations H, HD, and HT. Sulfur mustard sometimes smells like garlic, onions, or mustard and sometimes has no odor. It can be a vapor (the gaseous form of a liquid), an oily-textured liquid, or a solid.

    Ball-and-stick model of the sulfur mustard molecule. Image used with permission (Public Domain; Ben Mills).

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    Sulfur mustard is the organic compound with formula \(\ce{(Cl-CH2CH2)2S}\). In the Depretz method, sulfur mustard is synthesized by treating sulfur dichloride with ethylene:

    \[\ce{SCl2 + 2 C2H4 → (Cl-CH2CH2)2S }\]

    In the Levinstein process, sulfur monochloride is used instead:

    \[\ce{8 S2Cl2 + 16 C2H4 → 8 (Cl-CH2CH2)2S + S8}\]

    In the Meyer method, thiodiglycol is produced from chloroethanol and potassium sulfide and chlorinated with phosphorus trichloride:

    \[\ce{3 (HO-CH2CH2)2S + 2 PCl3 → 3 (Cl-CH2CH2)2S + 2 P(OH)3}\]

    In the Meyer-Clarke method, concentrated hydrochloric acid (HCl) instead of PCl3 is used as the chlorinating agent:

    \[\ce{(HO-CH2CH2)2S + 2 HCl → (Cl-CH2CH2)2S + 2 H2O}\]

    Thionyl chloride and phosgene have also been used as chlorinating agents. It is a viscous liquid at normal temperatures. The pure compound has a melting point of 14 °C (57 °F) and decomposes before boiling at 218 °C (424.4 °F).

    References

    1. Stewart, Charles D. (2006). Weapons of mass casualties and terrorism response handbook. Boston: Jones and Bartlett. p. 47. ISBN 0-7637-2425-4.
    2. "Chemical Weapons Production and Storage". Federation of American Scientists.

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