A process, such as heating or boiling, used to separate volatile liquid solutions from each other into simpler/fractional substances. Such a process is carried out as components evaporate after being heated; upon reaching their boiling points, substances evaporate from the solution and are transferred to a new container through the process described below.
The process of Fractional Distillation in 5 Quick Steps
- Heat mixture containing 2 or more substances (e.g., water and ethanol solution).
- The mixture will begin to boil, vaporizing some substances (e.g., ethanol will start to boil at 78.4 °C (351.6 K) and water at 100 °C (212 °F)).
- Vapor goes through the fractional distillation column (long glass tube).
- Vapor rises to the top and begins to cool down on its way into the second column. Condensers in commercial processes are the mechanics that cool down the vapor.
- Condensation (vapor to liquid) phase takes place as the vapor is cooled to liquid and finally the substance is transferred into a container on the other end of the second distillation column.
Real life examples of distillation
- Petroleum refineries use distillation to separate crude oil (see external link #3 video) (e.g., the Vallero refineries "towers" that can be seen from the freeway in Vallejo, California).
- Distillation in nature of water into purified water.
- Petrucci, Harwood, Herring, Madura. General Chemistry: Principles & Modern Applications, Ninth Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2007.
- Rajdeep Kular (UCD)