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Solvent Distillation Overview: Simple and Fractional
Distillation is the process of physically separating volatile from non-volatile components present in a mixture. The general process consists of boiling a mixture in a closed system and condensing the vapors back into a liquid.
CBG’s solvent distillation units separate volatile solvents from non-volatile materials that have contaminated the solvent during some type of manufacturing or laboratory process. For instance, consider a mixture of paint thinner and paint resins left over after paint guns are cleaned. A solvent distillation unit would heat the mixture to boil off the paint thinner, leaving just the paint resins behind in the boiling tank. The paint thinner vapors would then re-condense in a separate area and return to their liquid state.
There are two types of distillation: Simple Distillation and Fractional Distillation.
The choice of which type of distillation to use depends upon (i) the purity that is needed in the recovered distillate(s) (solvents), and (ii) whether two or more volatile components (as for example, acetone and water) need to be separated from one another.
In Simple Distillation, the hot vapors travel directly from the boiling tank into the condenser where they are cooled and become liquid (recovered solvent). In simple distillation, (i) there is no separation of one volatile component (solvent) from another, and (ii) the recovered solvent may be contaminated with small amounts of the nonvolatile contaminants. This last event occurs when, during the boiling of the waste-mixture, some micro-droplets are "carried" over into the condenser by the volatile vapors.
Simple distillation is widely-used and widely-accepted in wide variety of applications. Examples include (i) separating acetone from fiberglass resins, (ii) separating cleaning solvents from parts washing and vapor degreasers, and (iii) separating paint thinners from paint wastes coming from paint gun and paint line cleaning . Solvent recoveries in simple distillation often approach 99%, and ROIs (Returns on Investments) on recyclers often are less than one year.
In Fractional Distillation, a specially-packed reflux column is located between the boiling tank and the condenser. Thus, hot vapors from the boiling tank are forced to pass through this reflux column before they can reach the condenser. It is in this reflux column that different solvents are separated from one another, and where the purification of these solvents, including the removal of micro-droplets, occurs.
Fractional distillation is widely-used in electronic and chip manufacturing, aerospace, histology laboratories, FDA-regulated facilities, research laboratories and universities. Solvent recoveries in fractional distillation often approach 99%, and solvent purities can exceed 99.9%
We can help you decide which type of distillation is best for your operation. Contact us now to put our solvent distillation expertise to work for you.