C1 4.2 Fractional Distillation

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  • Fractional Distillation
    • Process used to separate crude oil into fractions
    • Can be done because boiling point of a hydrocarbon depends on the size of the molecule
      • The larger the molecule, the higher the boiling point.
    • Crude oil vaporised and fed into a fractionating column
      • Tall tower that is hot at the bottom and gets cooler towards the top
    • Inside column there are many trays with holes to allow gases through
      • Vapours move up the column and get cooler as they go.
      • Hydrocarbons condense as they reach the level at their boiling point.
      • Different liquids collect on different levels
      • Different outlets for different fractions
    • Hydrocarbons with the smallest molecules have the lowest boiling points and are collected at the top
      • Low viscosity - runny liquids
      • Very flammable
      • Burn with clean flames, producing little smoke.
      • Useful as fuels
    • Hydrocarbonswith the largest molecule have the highest boiling points and are collected at the bottom

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