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Publication Detail
Development of multistage distillation in a microfluidic chip
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
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  • Authors:
    Lam KF, Cao E, Sorensen E, Gavriilidis A
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  • Pagination:
    1311, 1317
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  • Addresses:
    Gavriilidis, A
    Dept Chem Engn
    WC1E 7JE
Although there has been a lot of work on the development of microchemical processing systems such as micro-reactors and micro-sensors, little attention has been paid to micro-separation units, and in particular, microscale distillation. In this paper, various silicon-glass microscale distillation chips with different channel configurations were fabricated and tested. A temperature gradient was setup across the chip by heating and cooling the two ends. The feed was located at the middle of the microchannel. Arrays of micropillars were incorporated in order to guide the liquid flow. It was found that the separation performance was promoted by increasing the length of the microchannel. However, this created an imbalance of the liquid flows at the two sides of the microchannel and caused flooding. This hydrodynamic limitation was addressed by incorporating micropillars on both sides of the channel. The most efficient microdistillation chip consisted of a microchannel with 600 microns width and 40 cm length. Experimental results showed high efficiency for the separation of a 50 mol% acetone-water mixture when the heating and cooling temperature were 95 degrees C and 42 degrees C respectively. The concentrations of acetone were 3 mol% in the bottom stream and 95 mol% in the distillate, which was equivalent to at least 4 equilibrium stages at total reflux conditions. Furthermore, a 50 mol% methanol-oluene mixture was separated into nearly pure toluene in the bottom stream and 75 mol% methanol in the distillate. The performance of the microdistillation unit was reproducible in repeated tests.
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