Chemistry

Difference Between Fractional Distillation and Simple Distillation

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Main Difference

The main difference between Fractional Distillation and Simple Distillation is that the Fractional Distillation is a process that is used to separate liquids that have very close boiling points, whereas the simple distillation in which only those liquids are separated that have large gaps of boiling points between them.

Fractional Distillation vs. Simple Distillation

Fractional distillation is a method that is used to separate liquids that have very close boiling points. On the other hand, simple distillation can be used to separate only those liquids that have large gaps of boiling points of at least 50 degrees between them. Fractional distillation is a longer, more time-consuming procedure; however, simple distillation only requires vaporization, and condensation thus takes less time than its comparative.

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Fractional distillation also takes more resources as it can require the process to be repeated several times to complete the separation of all of the fluids, but simple distillation takes lesser time due to the simplicity in its process. Fractional distillation uses the same apparatus with the addition of a fractionating column, whereas simple distillation involves a simple apparatus with two flasks and a condenser.

In fractional distillation, the fractionating column is used in the process as a segregator for different liquids involve in the process, whereas, in simple distillation, the liquid is separated as liquid with the lowest boiling point gets separated as it vaporizes and then condensed to a liquid form. Fractional distillation requires the process to be repeated several times to complete the separation of all of the solutions, whereas, for simple distillation, the process does not have to be repeated several times as a single take can do the purpose.

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Fractional distillation cannot be used to separate a solvent from a solute; however, in simple distillation, the solvent can be separated from solute by following the process. In fractional distillation, many significant components need to be recovered as products, whereas in simple distillation, the main component is usually a single product that is required to be separated. Fractional distillation’s main example is crude oil refining, whereas saltwater is refined by following the process of simple distillation.

Comparison Chart

Fractional DistillationSimple Distillation
Fractional distillation is used to isolate the liquids that have very close boiling points.Simple distillation can be used to separate only those liquids that have large gaps of boiling points of at least 50 degrees between them.
Apparatus
It uses a complex apparatus that includes a fractionating column.simple distillation involves a simple apparatus and no fractionating column
Resources
Consumes more energy and timeConsumes less energy and time
Process
The boiling component is collected at their specific different fractional columns resulting in the separation as a refined product.The solvent that needs to be separated boils at an earlier boiling point leaving behind all the unwanted solutes
Accuracy
It can readily purify complex liquids.Gives poorer separation
Repetition
It requires the process to be repeated more than once to complete the separation of all of the fluidsIt does not require the process to be repeated.
Solvent Separation
It cannot be used to separate a solvent from a soluteThe solvent can be separated from solute by following the process
Products
Many significant components need to be recovered as productsThe main component is usually a single product that is required to be separated.
Main Uses
Extrication a combination of liquids with minor boiling point variancesExtrication liquids with great boiling point variances or liquids with contaminations
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What is Fractional Distillation?

Fractional distillation is a technique that is used for the separation of components from complex mixtures. These components in this complex have closer boiling points. For such type of complex mixtures traditional form of distillation processes are meaningless. There a modified distillation like fractional distillation gets the work done.

Fractional distillation is a method that is used to separate liquids that have very close boiling points. The apparatus used in fractional distillation is complex as compared to traditional apparatuses with the addition of a fractionating column. This fractionating column is fixed to a flask that contains the liquid mixture. These fractionating columns act as small obstruction and for gases rising in the chamber. It will prevent the impure vapors from passing through.

Glass beads in this fractionating column provide a larger surface area for the processes of vaporization and condensation. This fractionating column is used in the process as a segregator for different liquids involve in the process. As let’s say, if a mixture of two components is heated, the vapor formed will consist of both components due to less difference in their boiling points.

But as time passes, the temperature will gradually fall, and the top of the fractioning column will reach the lower temperature point. The constituent with a minimum boiling point will be filtered there, and the remaining one with a higher boiling point will be collected at the lower end of the flask.

Complex liquids have a slightly different boiling point, and with the help of this fractionating column, these liquids get separated at their boiling point. Simple as it may seem, but fractional column adds complexity to its apparatus. Fractional distillation requires the process to be repeated several times to complete the separation of all of the fluids. This type of distillation cannot be used to separate a solvent from a solute.

Rather a compound like crude oil is distilled, and as many significant components need to be recovered as products during distillation. The phenomena involved in fractional distillation is that the components that have different boiling points are collected at different fraction during the process. This distillation is repeated many times, and that’s why it is also referred to as rectification distillation.

Repetitions in the process mean better separation of different components. Fractional distillation is mainly used in crude oil refining, where all different components get separated during the process.

What is Simple Distillation?

Simple distillation is a type of distillation which is used to separate those liquids that have large gaps of boiling points. These larger gaps could be of at least 50 degrees between them as it does not use a fractionating column. It involves a simple apparatus with two flasks and a condenser.

The process for distillation does not have to be repeated several times as a single take can do the purpose. This process starts at the boiling of the mixture at first, and the component which has the lowest melting point will start to boil and then will start vaporizing. Vapors are sent through the condenser where it is condensed, cooled, and then liquefied to collect as a separate compound.

The solvent that has to be separated usually boils at an earlier boiling point leaving behind all the unwanted solutes. In this type of distillation, a solvent can be separated from solute by following the process. The main component is usually a single product that is required to be separated. Simple distillation is usually used to separate liquid solvents from solid substances. Saltwater is refined by following the process of simple distillation.

Key Differences

  1. Fractional distillation is a procedure that helps in splitting liquids that contains very adjacent boiling points; on the other hand, simple distillation can assist in separating the only those type of liquids that consist of huge breaks of boiling points.
  2. Fractional distillation is considered as a lengthier and extra time-taking method; however, simple distillation only needs vaporization and condensation and, in comparison, takes minimum time.
  3. The difficult apparatus that includes fractionating support is used by fractional distillation; on the other hand, simple distillation includes a simple device having two flasks and a condenser.
  4. In fractional distillation, the fractionating pole takes part in the process as a separator for different liquids that take in the process whereas, the liquid is divided in simple distillation when a liquid having a minimum boiling point, becomes alienated as it evaporates and then compressed to a liquid form.
  5. Fractional distillation involves the method to be repeated many times to finish the parting of all of the liquids; contrary, the process does not have to be repeated many times in simple distillation as a single take can do the determination.
  6. On the method to isolate a solvent from a solute in the solution, the Fractional distillation cannot be used in this process; however, the solvent can be separated from solute in simple distillation by succeeding the method.
  7. Many vital mechanisms must be recuperated as products in fractional distillation, whereas the key factor is usually a single product in simple distillation that is obligatory to be parted.
  8. Crude oil refining is the main example of Fractional distillation, whereas the distillation of saltwater is done by simple distillation.

Conclusion

Fractional distillation is a complex process that is used to separate liquids that have very close boiling points, whereas simple distillation is a very simple distillation process that can be used to separate only those liquids that have large gaps of boiling points of at least 50 degrees between them.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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