Distillation units are commonly used in a wide variety of industries to separate mixtures of liquids with different boiling points. Distillation units are highly complex apparatuses comprised of numerous components, but they all have three primary features: the distillation flask, the condenser, and the collection vessel. To learn more about the main components of a distillation unit, continue reading.
Also known as a fractioning flask, the distillation flask is used to heat the mixture that’s being distilled and volatize its components. The design of the distillation flask typically features a round bottom, a long neck that serves as the distillation column, and a side arm, which facilitates condensation. To ensure that it can withstand the high temperatures and the various chemicals involved in the distillation process, the flask is typically designed from materials such as perfluoroalkoxy alkaline or borosilicate glass.
During the distillation process, the liquids with lower boiling points will vaporize more quickly and rise through the neck of the distillation flask into the side arm before reaching the condenser.
After the more volatile components of the mixture with lower boiling points boil off, the resulting vapors will enter the condenser. Here, they’ll be condensed back into liquids so that they can be easily collected. To do so, the condenser will eject heat and cool the vapors of the mixture’s components until they return to a liquid state. The condenser is typically tilted in a downward position during this process, which allows the condensed vapors to slide into the collection vessel.
Once the vapors have been condensed back into liquids, they’ll drip down into a separate container known as the collection vessel. This container serves the simple purpose of receiving and storing the distillate. The collection vessel is typically connected to or positioned directly below the condenser to ensure the purified liquid isn’t lost.
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