Fig. 3-1 shows reflux occurring in a laboratory retort, about the simplest still imaginable. Reflux and Product Ratios

The Reflux Ratio is the ratio of the vapor returned to the still as reflux to the total amount of vapor produced. The reflux ratio is often expressed as a percentage: if the boiler produces 100 parts of vapor and 90 parts of this are condensed and returned, then the reflux ratio is 90%. Operating under 100% reflux, or at a reflux ratio of 100%, means that all the vapor is condensed and returned to the still.

The ratio of the amount withdrawn as product to the total amount of vapor is the product ratio, or "draw down" of the system. It is sometimes confused with reflux ratio. A simple guide to keeping these terms straight is "Product goes out, Reflux goes back".

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