What are Separation Processes?

A separation process involves the conversion of a mixture into multiple distinct product mixtures. A pure component can be obtained from a mixture of components by exploiting the differences in the physical and chemical properties of the components. For example, Several mixtures containing acids and bases can be purified via acid-base extraction processes. Some common techniques for the separation of mixtures are listed below.

Adsorption

Adsorption refers to the process in which a solid surface becomes coated with a thin layer of liquid or gaseous particles. Adsorption is exploited in several air separation processes. For example, zeolites are used to separate a mixture of carbon dioxide and natural gas. They can also be used for the removal of carbon monoxide from reforming gas.

Centrifugation

In these techniques, a centrifugal force is applied to a miscible solution containing two liquids. When the centrifugal force is applied, the component with higher density moves away from the axis whereas the component with lower density moves towards the axis.

Chromatography

A common laboratory separation process is chromatography, which exploits the different interactions of the components with a material. In such techniques, the mixtures are generally dissolved in fluids that carry them through a structure (which is made of a different material). Since the different components traverse at different speeds, they are separated. The technique of column chromatography involves the separation of components with the help of a stationary bed placed within a tube.

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