Why cant you completely purify ethanol from water via distillation?

Nathan Hyatt asked a question: Why cant you completely purify ethanol from water via distillation?
Asked By: Nathan Hyatt
Date created: Tue, Apr 20, 2021 3:12 AM

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Video answer: How to purify by recrystallization

How to purify by recrystallization

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Those who are looking for an answer to the question «Why cant you completely purify ethanol from water via distillation?» often ask the following questions:

❔ How does distillation purify water?

Water distillation is a water purification process that uses a heat source to vaporize water and separate it from the contaminants within. Most frequently, the undesirable elements are what you find naturally in ground or surface water. Distillation heats untreated water until the water reaches its relatively low boiling point and begins to vaporize. The heat of the water is then kept at this temperature to maintain the water vaporization while stopping other elements from vaporizing as well ...

❔ Can you purify water by distillation?

PURIFYING DRINKING WATER by using home distillation units is one option available for people with a water quality problem. Distillation is an effective method to remove inorganic compounds, bacteria, particulates and some organic contaminants.

❔ How does distillation purify sea water?

How does distillation purify sea water? Thermal distillation involves heat: Boiling water turns it into vapor—leaving the salt behind—that is collected and condensed back into water by cooling it down. Seawater is forced through a semipermeable membrane that separates salt from water.

Video answer: Liquid-liquid extraction (or separation)

Liquid-liquid extraction (or separation)

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Because, fractional distillation requires that the vapour pressures of various components in the mixture be different, but this is not so at azeotropic point. For this reason, ethanol cannot be completely purified by direct fractional distillation of ethanol-water mixtures. Some other examples of such azeotropes includes:

This is a mixture in which the azeotrope distills off before the desired liquie (ethanol). Citing from my memory, ethanol boils at 78.3C and the azeotrope of 95% ethanol/water boils off at 78.15C. So you really neevr can get 100% ethanol from distillation because the azeotrope has a lower boiling point and so you have to use a dehydrating salt (CaO).

Given any set of conditions, it will be more likely to fly away than water molecules. This includes higher temperatures. Heat up a mix of ethanol and water, and more of the ethanol will go away ...

Observe the thermometer carefully. As long as any ethanol remains in the distillation vessel, the temperature of the vapor remains at the boiling point of the ethanol/water azeotrope. When all of the ethanol has boiled off, you’ll see a sudden increase in temperature, which indicates that you are now boiling off pure water as steam.

So when the mixture reaches 78°C the ethanol boils and travels to the boiling tube as a gas. It then condenses as highly concentrated ethanol (not pure ethanol, as some of the water in the ...

Actually, distilled water can be very impure. Consider how distillation works. First, you're basically boiling water and then letting it cool to collect it again. Ideally contaminants with different boiling points will be removed, if you are careful to collect the distilled liquid at exactly the right temperature and pressure.

The liquid collected by condensing the vapor from the top of the fractionating column cannot be pure ethanol. The best you can produce by simple fractional distillation is 95.6% ethanol. What you can get (although it isn't very useful!) from the mixture is pure water. As ethanol rich vapor is given off from the liquid boiling in the distillation flask, it will eventually lose all the ethanol to leave just water.

Also, ammonia is a weak base and reacts with water (which is not usually the case when you're doing a distillation). $$\ce{NH3 + H2O <=> NH4+ + OH-}$$ So, if there's any water around as the ammonia is distilling and they recombine, they would also react which would make it difficult to remove the last of the water.

ethanol-water mixtures. These azeotropic solutions of ethanol and water are also known as constant boiling mixures (CBM) since the azeotropic liquid will have the same temperature as the azeotropic equilibrium vapor being boiled from itself. Without some sort of drastic process intervention, further ethanol purification be-comes impossible.

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