In a fractionating column, what process is caused by cooling?

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mathscihelp eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A fractionating column is used within the laboratory as a distillation tool to separate components within a liquid mixture. A mixture is gradually heated where each component within the liquid is separated based upon differences in volatility. A simple fractional distillation set up might include a reaction vessel containing the mixture, fractionating column,  thermometer, condenser, and then a collecting flask to be used to collect each component distillate. Please refer to the figure within the provided resource to see how all these components might fit together. The fractionating column usually contains glass beads which allows the refluxing liquid to condense and evaporate multiple times thereby improving the quality of the separation. The condenser is kept cool via the use of cold water passing through it. As volatile components leave the fractioning column, they will then undergo a final condensation on the inner walls of the condensing tube. The liquid which is then collected downstream is one of the purified liquid components from the original mixture. Thus, a cyclical condensation process is facilitated using a fractionating column.

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