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Thermodynamics/How to Separate 99.9% Phenol from Cresol (Phenol Crude) ?


I am Jani doing my masters in Fh-aachen University germany. My GPA is 2.0

I am doing my thesis on extraction of Phenol from its close boiling compound. My work is to get 99.9% pure phenol from phenol crude mixture (Phenol, o-Cresol, p-Cresol, m-Cresol).

I have done many Distillation and Extraction but the maximum purity I got is 97% the remaining 3% contains Cresol.
Please suggest me with process or book or tric to deal with this difficulties

Thank you

Hi Jani,

What you need is a fractional distillation column. This has a similar arragement at the base to a normal lab distillation but has a packed column(glass beads or small Rashig rings) leading vertically to a condenser. The condensed liquid is then separated and much of it  returned to the column (this is the reflux ratio ca. 10 to 1). The column will need to be heated or well insulated. Pure phenol will go solid at room temperature.

Operating such apparatus is not simple but is very rewarding.

A very simple apparatus can be seen on wikipedia (search 'Fractional distillation') it lacks a reflux ratio head and you would need to have good vacuum.

I know from personal experience that phenols and cresols cause painful skin burns. Large areas of skin contamination can be fatal. Please be carefull and protect skin and eyes.

I hope this helps.
Best wishes


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Thermodynamics, chemistry, chemical reactions, kinetics, chemical reaction safety, dust explosion technology, static electricity. General science.


Over 40 years experience as a practicing thermochemist in industry. Head of the fire and explosion laboratory of a major European chemical company (Ciba-Geigy). Now retired.

Institute of Chemical Engineers. Royal Society of Chemistry.

Chartered Chemist, Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (C.Chem MRSC). Msc Sheffield.

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