Solvent Recovery vs Distillation: Which is Best?

Solvent recovery and distillation are critical processes in a range of industries. Both processes are used to separate and purify elements meaning they are helpful means of recovering a range of chemical components. This article will detail both processes and how they measure up against one another.

What is Solvent Recovery

Solvent recovery or solvent extraction is a technique in which chemical compounds are isolated in accordance with their solubilities. Solvent recovery is employed in a range of industries from vegetable oils, perfume, food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, cannabis production and mining. Solvent recovery is important because it is used to isolate hazardous materials from sediments and sludge and separate the helpful components from the debris.

An example of this is solvent recovery in the petrochemical refining industry, where it is used to separate petrol by causing them to float to the top or sink to the bottom for easy removal.

Solvent recovery is also important in the hazardous waste industry as it decreases the levels of hazardous waste that needs to be treated. Solvent recovery does not damage the substance which is extracted, just separates the compounds. These compounds are then extracted to be used for a range of purposes according to the industry. Solvent recovery is a means of purifying elements and identify different chemical components.

Rotary evaporators use evaporation to gently and efficiently remove solvents from a range of sample types, including both organic and inorganic analytes and polymeric materials. The sample is heated whilst its boiling point is lowered by a vacuum which is formed by the rotary evaporator. This means that solvent recovery is possible at a much lower temperature.

What is Solvent Distillation?

Solvent distillation is the solvent separation involving application of heat to separate a mixture of liquid of two or more two or more substances. The solvent mixture is heated to boiling point and as a vapor its piped away to a new storage container in which is will cool and condense to an almost pure quality. This results in a distilled solvent which can be reused and wastage which can be disposed of accordingly.

Rotary evaporators are sometimes used in distillation applications as it is faster than traditional techniques as solutions are distilled under reduced pressure at a lower temperature, speeding up the process because of the larger surface area.

The Key Differences Between Solvent Recovery and Distillation

The key difference between solvent recovery and distillation is that solvent recovery purifies a substance whether it is in a solid or liquid phase whereas solvent distillation can only purify a substance in the liquid phase. This means that solvent recovery can be used for more applications and is a more cost-effective solution.

Rotary evaporators from Ecodyst can be used for both distillation and solvent recovery. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you, contact us today.