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Fractional Distillation

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Learn about fractional distillation equipment. Determine if distillation apparatus has been safely set-up and examine the conditions of the glassware, condenser, thermometer position, fractioning column and heat supply.

Learning Outcomes

  • Familiarise yourself with fractional distillation apparatus
  • Understand the importance of safely setting up the appropriate glassware
  • Understand the need for a fractioning column
  • Learn how to fit a condenser correctly
  • Learn appropriate placement of clamps and collection flask
  • Understand the correct positioning of the thermometer and type of heat supplied
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Using Instruments and Equipment

  • What equipment is required to perform a fractional distillation experiment
  • Why a flow of water through the condenser is required for effective cooling 
  • How the direction of water flow affects the cooling process
  • Where the thermometer should be placed in order to measure the temperature of the condensing vapour 
  • Why a packed vertical column works best for fractional distillation

Working in a Safe Manner

  • Why the connections between components of the apparatus must be secured
  • Why plastic clips should only be used on cold apparatus 
  • Why it is important to not overfill the reaction flask or overheat the solution 
  • Why boiling chips are required

Learn more about our approach to skills
Dr. Ciorsdaidh Watts
University of Glasgow

“We have noted how quickly students got started initially, and how much extra time they had in the lab to concentrate on techniques and safety.”



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