Continuous distillation, a form of distillation, is an ongoing separation in which a mixture is continuously (without interruption) fed into the process and separated fractions are removed continuously as output streams. A distillation is the separation or partial separation of a liquid feed mixture into components or fractions by selective boiling (or evaporation) and condensation. A distillation produces at least two output fractions. These fractions include at least one volatile distillate fraction, which has boiled and been separately captured as a vapor condensed to a liquid, and practically always a bottoms (or residuum) fraction, which is the least volatile residue that has not been separately captured as a condensed vapor.
An alternative to continuous distillation is batch distillation, where the mixture is added to the unit at the start of the distillation, distillate fractions are taken out sequentially in time (one after another) during the distillation, and the remaining bottoms fraction is removed at the end. Because each of the distillate fractions are taken out at different times, only one distillate exit point (location) is needed for a batch distillation and the distillate can just be switched to a different receiver, a fraction-collecting container. Batch distillation is often used when smaller quantities are distilled. In a continuous distillation, each of the fraction streams is taken simultaneously throughout operation; therefore, a separate exit point is needed for each fraction. In practice when there are multiple distillate fractions, each of the distillate exit points are located at different heights on a fractionating column. The bottoms fraction can be taken from the bottom of the distillation column or unit, but is often taken from a re boiler connected to the bottom of the column.
Each fraction may contain one or more components (types of chemical compounds). When distilling crude oil or a similar feedstock, each...
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