World Journal of Chemical Education
ISSN (Print): 2375-1665 ISSN (Online): 2375-1657 Website: Editor-in-chief: Prof. V. Jagannadham
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World Journal of Chemical Education. 2016, 4(3), 49-51
DOI: 10.12691/wjce-4-3-1
Open AccessArticle

Convenient and Inexpensive Insulation for Fractional Distillation Columns

Daniel D. Clark1,

1Department of Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion, USA

Pub. Date: June 18, 2016

Cite this paper:
Daniel D. Clark. Convenient and Inexpensive Insulation for Fractional Distillation Columns. World Journal of Chemical Education. 2016; 4(3):49-51. doi: 10.12691/wjce-4-3-1


A convenient and inexpensive method for insulating fractional distillation columns in undergraduate laboratories with pre-slit, tubular pipe insulation that is widely available in hardware stores is described. This insulation can be quickly employed, can provide uniform insulation, and can be reused, which reduces the amount of trash generated from commonly used insulation.

laboratories and demonstrations organic chemistry separations laboratory equipment experiment fractional distillation

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[5]  Distillations were performed in an open fume hood with 25 mL of a 50% (v/v) methanol and 1-propanol mixture contained in a 100 mL round bottom flask and heated with a Powermite-controlled 100 mL Thermowell heating mantle as part of the distillation apparatus as referenced in Figure 1– except for the incorporation of a Vigreux column that was either left uncovered, insulated with tubular polyethylene foam, or insulated with a layer paper towels and aluminum foil, respectively. Each of these experiments employed similar Powermite control settings throughout the duration of the distillations to facilitate a slow rise of the condensate through the fractionating column and the collection of distillate at similar a pace during similar points of each separation (i.e. 3-5 sec per drop for the collection of methanol and 1.5-3 sec per drop for the collection of 1-propanol).
[6]  Material Safety Data Sheet [online] for Nomaco Construction Polyethylene Foam Pipe Insulation; Nomaco, Inc.: Zebulon, NC (USA), September 15, 2014. (accessed May 6, 2016).