- Separation process
In chemistry and chemical engineering, a separation process, or simply a separation, is any mass transfer process used to convert a mixture of substances into two or more distinct product mixtures, at least one of which is enriched in one or more of the mixture's constituents. In some cases, a separation may fully divide the mixture into its pure constituents. Separations are carried out based on differences in chemical properties such as size, shape, mass, or chemical affinity between the constituents of a mixture, and are often classified according to the particular differences they use to achieve separation. In the case that no single difference can be used to accomplish a desired separation, multiple processes will often be performed in combination to achieve the desired end.
Barring a few exceptions, almost every element or compound is naturally found in an impure state. Often these impure raw materials must be separated into their purified components before they can be put to productive use, making separation processes essential for the modern industrial economy. In some cases these separations require total purification, as in the electrolysis refining of bauxite ore for aluminum metal, but a good example of an incomplete separation process is oil refining. Crude oil occurs naturally as a mixture of various hydrocarbons and impurities. The refining process splits this mixture into other, more valuable mixtures such as natural gas, gasoline and chemical feedstocks, none of which are pure substances, but each of which must be separated from the raw crude. In both these cases a series of separations is necessary to obtain the desired end products. In the case of aluminum refining, bauxite ore is first converted to alumina, a compound of aluminum and oxygen, and then further refined into pure aluminum metal. In the case of oil refining, crude is subjected to a long series of individual distillation steps, each of which produces a different product or intermediate.
Various types of separation processes
- Adsorption, adhesion of atoms, ions or molecules of gas, liquid, or dissolved solids to a surface.
- Centrifugation and cyclonic separation, separates based on density differences.
- Chromatography separates dissolved substances by different interaction with (i.e., travel through) a material.
- Demister (vapor), removes liquid droplets from gas streams.
- Distillation, used for mixtures of liquids with different boiling points.
- Drying, removes liquid from a solid by vaporisation.
- Electrophoresis, separates organic molecules based on their different interaction with a gel under an electric potential (i.e., different travel).
- Dissolved air flotation, removes suspended solids non-selectively from slurry by bubbles that are generated by air coming out of solution.
- Froth flotation, recovers valuable, hydrophobic solids by attachment to air bubbles generated by mechanical agitation of an air-slurry mixture, which float, and are recovered.
- Deinking, separating hydrophobic ink particles from hydrophilic paper pulp in paper recycling.
- Flocculation, separates a solid from a liquid in a colloid, by use of a flocculant, which promotes the solid clumping into flocs.
- Filtration, Mesh, bag and paper filters are used to remove large particulates suspended in fluids (e.g., fly ash) while membrane processes including microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, reverse osmosis, dialysis (biochemistry) utilising synthetic membranes, separates micrometre-sized or smaller species.
- Fractional distillation
- Fractional freezing
- Oil-water separation, gravimetrically separates suspended oil droplets from waste water in oil refineries, petrochemical and chemical plants, natural gas processing plants and similar industries.
- Magnetic separation.
- Sedimentation, separates using density differences.
- Vapor-liquid separation, separates by gravity, based on the Souders-Brown equation.
- Zone refining.
ProcessesAbsorption · Acid-base extraction · Adsorption · Chromatography · Cross-flow filtration · Crystallization · Cyclonic separation · Dialysis (biochemistry) · Dissolved air flotation · Distillation · Drying · Electrochromatography · Electrofiltration · Filtration · Flocculation · Froth flotation · Gravity separation · Leaching (chemical science) · Liquid-liquid extraction · Microfiltration · Osmosis · Precipitation (chemistry) · Recrystallization · Reverse osmosis · Sedimentation · Solid Phase Extraction · Sublimation · Ultrafiltration (industrial) Devices Multiphase systems Concepts Analytical chemistry Instrumentation Techniques Sampling Prominent publications
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