Solvent Extraction Examples


Solvent Extraction


Solvent extraction has always proved itself very helpful as a recovery method for many

components. It is a method of separating compounds on the basis of their solubility in two

different immiscible liquids like water and organic compound. We can also say that it's a

method of separating a compound which is soluble in an immiscible or a partially

immiscible liquid which gives you a desired compound either in the form of a solute or in a

form of a residue. This forms different layers which facilitates the separation of



The simplest solvent extraction

examples may be derived from

water and organic compounds.

For example: Benzene is non

polar and is immiscible in water

as the polarity of water is very

high. So, if we want to separate

benzene from a liquid which

contains a component that

dissolves in water, then we can

mix it with water and the

separated layer will be benzene.

Solvent extraction is also widely used in the petrochemical refining

industries. Extracted petroleum has lots of impurities and therefore it

cannot be used for any purposes. Hence, this extraction is used to purify the

product. Special solvent is introduced in the petroleum which reacts with

the impurities and either settles them down or keep them floating. Then the

impurities can be easily separated and pure petroleum is further packed for



The solvent should be able to dissolve at least one component to a large

extent than the rest of the components in the mixture.

The reaction taking place should be stable and irreversible. Reversible

reactions can bring back the dissolved components in their previous form

and the extraction will not be completed successfully.

The compound formed after the reaction should be easily separated from

the extracted compound so that it can be reused.

The density of the compound should be different from the required

component to help the separation readily.

It should be inexpensive and cost-effective.

The solvent should not be toxic or corrosive as it can harm the extraction



Condition under which the reaction or the extraction process takes place

also affects the separation. Temperature and pH play a very important role

in separating components. So it is very necessary to maintain the

temperature and pH of the compound during the extraction process.

Pressure does not affect the reaction much, as most of the solvent

extractions are carried out under the atmospheric pressure. Other factors

may be precipitation of solids, vapor pressure, etc. Apart from these factors,

residence time is also important in the reactions like metals separation or

short life components like antibiotics.

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