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Eastern Railroad Discussion > molten sulfur

Date: 01/20/02 17:03
molten sulfur
Author: GAP

Over the weekend saw some tank cars labelled "molten sulfur." They were on an eastbound CP run-thru train on the CSX line thru Michigan.

What really is molten sulfur?
Where does it come from?
Where does it go to?
What is it used for?

Date: 01/20/02 17:53
RE: molten sulfur
Author: run8

> What really is molten sulfur?

Elemental sulfur which is hot enough that it is in liquid form. The freezing point of sulfur is slightly higher than the boiling point of water.

> Where does it come from?

A number of sources: Coke processing ovens (not the nose candy kind); sour gas wells; and in the production of certain chemicals like titanium dioxide. In short, those processes don't want sulfur in the end product, but the raw materials they use have high sulfur concentrations, (coal, sour natural gas) so part of the production is desulfuring.

> Where does it go to?

Mainly chemical plants.

> What is it used for?

Manufacturing things like sulfuric acid, drugs, fertilizer, plastics, and so on.

Date: 01/20/02 19:42
RE: molten sulfur
Author: throbbingunits

I saw a half grain, half sulphur train go east on the
CSX James River S-D today. Had CSX, HLCX, and 2 Soo units for power
The sulphur we see around here is going to a fertilizer
plant at Lee's Creek, NC

Date: 01/20/02 21:52
RE: molten sulfur
Author: blair

run8 wrote:
[the original poster asked]
> > What is it used for?
> Manufacturing things like sulfuric acid, drugs, fertilizer,
> plastics, and so on.

And for vulcanizing rubber, as in tire manufacture.

Date: 01/21/02 09:59
RE: molten sulfur
Author: fwbryan

By volume, most of the sulfur comes from wells (many in Canada) and is used in the manufacture of phosphate fertilizers. The stuff is hot when loaded into insulated steam-coil tank cars, but after a few days (depending on outside temperature) it solidifies in the tank, and must be steam heated (sometimes for a day or so) at destination t for unloading. It is harmless in its solid state, sort of...

I remember a derailment some years ago on the IC where one or more tank cars broke open and spilled the molten sulfur into a ditch, partially immersing the cars. The next day when they came to right the cars, the stuff was so solid they had to chip away the sulfur to release the cars.

Date: 01/21/02 10:26
RE: molten sulfur
Author: soo6007

Sulfur (or "sulphur") can be shipped in liquid or solid form depending on what it is to be used for. In Canada, most sulfur comes from around the western prairies and around the foothills of the Rockies. It seems that practically all of the molten sulfur is shipped in it's liquid form in the (short) tank cars south to the states, and in it's solid (powdered) form in open topped hoppers (ie: "sultran" cars) west to be shipped across the Pacific.


Date: 01/21/02 10:58
RE: molten sulfur
Author: bnsf

CSX and CP/SOO (one reason the train is seen with so many CP and Soo units) runs a train that runs from Lee Creek, NC (Near Aurora (approx 45 miles East of Greenville) to Chicago. As far as I know the trains runs at least 6 times a week and maybe everyday. Comes through Greenville, NC around 12:30-2:00 on weekdays and Saturday. Then the train is routed from Rocky Mount, NC north to Richmond and from there I am not to sure where it goes to get to Chicago.

Date: 01/21/02 11:46
RE: molten sulfur
Author: RobR


I've seen tank cars labeled "molten sulfur" several times, but only once did I smell rotten eggs as the train passed. Is it normal to smell sulfur around these trains?


Date: 01/21/02 13:17
RE: molten sulfur
Author: peachfuzz

CSX also takes this stuff to Mulberry FL. The trains run with a mix of SOO/CP/CN power, and cause a scramble among the fans along the route when the emails start flying about one coming.

Date: 01/21/02 20:10
RE: molten sulfur - a train
Author: throbbingunits

Here's a train of sulphur empties at Charlotesville a few years ago

Date: 01/21/02 21:56
RE: molten sulfur - a train
Author: blair

In all the time I spent there, I never saw such a train. Good catch.

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