Also known as fractional distillation, short-path distillation is a low-pressure evaporation technique used to separate materials from various compounds. Materials frequently extracted using short-path distillation include fatty acids, fragrances, fuels, oils, polyurethane, and CBD oil from hemp plants. Multiple industries implement this method, from food to pharmaceutical. If you don’t know which distillation method is right for you, consider these many advantages of short-path distillation.
How short-path distillation works
Short-path distillation is a form of separation technology used to purify a liquid compound. To do so, the compound is placed under a high-vacuum condition to reduce pressure. The mixtures will then separate based on differences in their volatiles. During this process, distillate travels a very short distance, typically only a few centimeters. That means this compact purification method is frequently used for laboratory applications that require a minimal instrumentation footprint.
Benefits of short-path distillation
- Better for temperature-sensitive compounds: The use of a vacuum reduces pressure, so the distilling temperature used for short-path distillation can be much lower than the compound’s boiling temperature. Short-path distillation doesn’t require you to subject compounds to high temperatures for long durations, which are typically necessary when distilling at standard pressure. Since the process can take place at lower temperatures, this method is especially beneficial for compounds that become unstable at high temperatures or have a high boiling point.
- Prevents wasted compound: Short-path distillation only requires a liquid to travel a short distance, so less compound is lost in the equipment. It’s a more-efficient method that reduces material waste.
- Good for purifying small amounts of compound: Short-path distillation is the ideal method to distill small quantities. This is because the liquid travels across a shorter surface area and less compound is retained on the equipment.
- Ease of use: One of the main advantages of short-path distillation is its ease of use. Most conventional distillation techniques require large apparatuses to reach their desired purity levels. The apparatus used for short-path distillation, however, can achieve high distillate purity levels without the need for bulky, cumbersome equipment. The method is ideal for those with smaller working spaces.
- Quick heating process: While other conventional evaporation apparatuses typically take hours to complete a separation, short-path distillation may only take a few seconds.
If you need equipment to complete your lab, USA Lab Equipment can help. We stock a wide variety of evaporation equipment—from short-path distillation kits to 50-liter rotary evaporators. For more information regarding our equipment, contact us today.