This article deals with a few essential factors about distillation equipment. But at the outset, let’s look at what distillation is.
Distillation refers to the process of separating components or substances from a liquid mixture. In other words, it is the process of selective boiling and resultant condensation of a component in a liquid mixture.
The machine that helps distill is termed distillation equipment. Let’s delve into some aspects of distillation and Distillation Equipment.
Types of Distillation Processes
The type of distillation process used varies with the application involved. For instance, fractional distillation is used to purify water, whereas zone distillation involves partial melting of a substance and condensing the resultant vapors to achieve a pure distillate. Here are some more types of distillation processes.
- Simple Distillation: The liquid mixture is heated to the boiling point, and the resulting vapors are immediately condensed.
- Steam Distillation: This type of distillation is used to separate heat-sensitive components in a mixture.
- Vacuum Distillation: This one is apt for separating mixtures of liquids with excessively high boiling points.
- Air-Sensitive Vacuum Distillation: When the vacuum is replaced with inert gas, once the vacuum distillation process is complete, the process is called air-sensitive vacuum distillation.
- Short Path Distillation: This type of distillation is used to purify small quantities of a compound characterized by instability at high temperatures.
Parts of Distillation Columns
Distillation columns that enable the distillation process comprise various parts. Each of these components is used to transfer heat energy or enhance material transfer. Usually, here are the parts involved in distillation columns.
- Vertical shell to separate liquid components.
- Column internals like trays/plates and/or packings to enhance component separations.
- Reboiler to provide the necessary vaporization for distillation.
- Condenser to cool and condense the vapor leaving the column’s top.
- Reflux drum to hold the condensed vapor from the column’s top so that the system can recycle back the liquid (reflux) to the column.
Working of Distillation Equipment – Overview
Let’s overview the process of distillation equipment.
- The feed (liquid mixture to be processed) is introduced to the feed tray.
- The feed tray divides the column into a top section and a bottom section.
- The feed travels down the column where it is collected at the bottom in the reboiler.
- Heat is supplied to the reboiler to form a vapor.
- The vapor is re-introduced into the unit at the column’s bottom.
- The vapor travels to the top. As it exits the unit’s top, a condenser cools it.
- The condensed liquid is stored in a reflux drum.
- Some liquid is recycled back to the column’s top. The process is called reflux.
- The condensed liquid removed from the system is called the distillate.
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