The process of distillation is a purifying procedure that is often done in labs, commercial business, or printing companies. During the procedure, there is a separation of two components with similar boiling points. This separation is what contributes to the purifying process. There are many types of distillation but two of the most commonly used types are azeotropic distillation and extractive distillation.
Azeotropic distillation is the process of separating two components of a mixture by forming what is called an azeotrope. This mixture of liquids typically contain a constant boiling point due to the vapor having the same composition as the liquid mixture. One example of this mixture is ethanol and water. Ethanol and water is referred to as a binary mixture because they are able to completely form a homogeneous mixture. In this product purification process, the azeotrope is broken by adding a third component which is often referred to as a solvent.
The extractive distillation process is similar in this way because it also uses a third component to create a separation of the two mixtures. Extractive distillation is useful when separating mixtures from a surfeit of substances. The difference between the two procedures however is that the latter forms an azeotrope to separate the mixture. This process is done before the distillation process in the technique of azeotropic distillation.
Benefits of Azeotropic Distillation
- Higher purity (from having two distillation phases)
- Reduced energy consumption
- More of the original product obtained
- Thermal stability
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