What is distillation?

November 1, 2021

Distillation is the process that separates the different substances found in a liquid mixture through selective vaporization and condensation processes. It is a process used in industry and in laboratories.

What is it?

Distillation is a process used to purify liquids and separate mixtures to obtain their individual components with a high degree of purity. The different substances that make up a liquid mixture are separated by selective vaporization and condensation. The mixture can be composed of liquids, dissolved solids or liquefied gases, in this way they can be separated taking advantage of the different boiling points of each one.

This means that the greater the difference between the boiling points of each component of the mixture, the more efficient the separation will be and the greater the degree of purity.

How it is performed?

The technique consists of heating the mixture until it comes to a boil. The substance with the lower boiling point begins to vaporize while the other substances maintain their state. The steam is directed towards a condenser, where it is cooled and goes to a liquid state, this will maintain the same composition of the vapors.

An example of this process would be a salt and water solution. This mixture is heated in a distillation flask to generate steam. The steam travels through a refrigerant tube and turns the water from a gas to a liquid. When all the water condenses the salt will not evaporate and will remain in the flask.

Types of distillation

Simple distillation

It is an operation where the vapors produced are sent to a condenser, which cools them. This process does not achieve a totally pure distillate. It allows separating substances with a difference in their boiling point between 100 and 200ºC, separating solids from a liquid or 2 liquids with a difference of 50ºC in their boiling point.

Fractional distillation

It is used when liquids with close boiling points must be separated. It uses a fractionation column, this allows contact between the rising vapors and the descending condensed liquid using different plates or surfaces. This facilitates the exchange of heat between vapor and liquid.

Vacuum distillation

Generates a partial vacuum within the distillation system in order to distill substances below their normal boiling point. It is used to purify unstable substances.

Another type of distillation are:

  • Azeotropic distillation.
  • Steam distillation.
  • Improved distillation.
  • Dry distillation.
  • Centrifugal molecular distillation.
  • Sublimation.
  • Destructive distillation.
Dr. Loony Davis5
 | Website

Born and raised in Brussels in an English family, I have always lived in a multicultural environment. After several work experiences in marketing and communication, I came to Smart Water Magazine, which I describe as the most exciting challenge of my career.
I am a person with great restlessness and curiosity to learn, discover what I do not know, as well as reinvent myself daily, someone who is curious about life and wants to know. I enjoy sharing knowledge.
This is my personal project but I also collaborate in other blogs, it is the case, the most important web on water currently exists in the US, if you are interested you can read my articles here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *