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What are the uses of phosphoric acid?

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Quick Answer

The primary use of phosphoric acid is in the manufacture of fertilizers, although it is also used to make synthetic detergents. Other uses of phosphoric acid include the treatment of water and metal, and it is also sometimes used as an additive in some foods and drinks.

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Full Answer

Phosphoric acid is used as an additive and flavoring agent in both human and animal feed. It is commonly used in sodas to provide a sharp or sour flavor. In fact, almost all the acidic flavor in soda comes from phosphoric acid, as the carbonic acid contained in the bubbles has little effect on the overall pH. Phosphoric acid also helps to keep bacteria and fungi from forming in these sugary drinks.

Phosphorous is one of the most essential plant nutrients. In order to add extra phosphorous to soil, phosphoric acid is converted into phosphates that are then mixed in with other ingredients to form fertilizer. More than 80 percent of the phosphoric acid produced in the world is used in the manufacture of fertilizer. As of 2014, Asia is the world's largest producer of phosphoric acid, with around 14 million tons produced per year. North America is second in production, with annual production of approximately 10 million tons.

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