Distillation columns are very widely used in the chemical and petroleum industries to separate chemical components into more or less pure product streams. This separation is based on differences in "volatilities" (tendencies to vaporize) among various chemical components. For example, a mixture of methanol and water can be separated by distillation because methanol is more volatile or boils at a lower temperature than water. In a distillation column, the more volatile, or lighter, components are removed from the top of the column, and the less volatile, or heavier, components are removed from the lower part of the column.
Was this article helpful?