What Are the Uses of Distillation Today?

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Distillation has several practical uses, including laboratory scale, food processing, herbal, medicinal and industrial. Commercial processes include the production of gasoline, kerosene and several other liquids. Distillation is a technique used to separate mixtures based on differences required to change the phase of the components.

The fields of transport, energy and power all benefit from the distillation industry's production of crude oil into more fractions. The beverage industry also uses distillation in the production of fermented drinks. Companies that purify water use distillation to remove elements such as salt and other particles. Industrially, air is distilled into its components of oxygen, nitrogen and argon.

Several types of distillation exist, each conferring advantages to some applications over others. Distillation methods include simple distillation, fractional distillation, steam distillation, vacuum distillation, air-sensitive distillation and short-vacuum distillation. Distillation can also be classified into batch-scale or industrial. Laboratory distillation is generally run as batch distillation.

The properties of distillation are governed by Raoult's law and Dalton's law. Raoult's law assumes a component contributes to the total vapor pressure of a mixture in proportion to its percentage of the mixture and its vapor pressure when pure. With Dalton's law, the total vapor pressure is the sum of the vapor pressures of each individual component in the mixture.