Distillation and rectification are among the most common physical separation methods, both on a laboratory scale and for industrial production, which have encountered widespread application in the flavour and fragrance industry. It is the intent of the following discussion to familiarise the reader with the basic fundamentals necessary for the daily operation of such units; extensive literature is available on the theoretical and practical aspects of designing and operating such equipment [1-9].
The development of this important thermal separation process can be dated back to ancient times. Until the end of the 18th century, however, the structure of the distillation apparatus had remained almost unchanged. It consisted of an evaporation unit, a distillation flask heated by an oven, and a condensation unit with an air- and later water-cooled condenser. In the early 19th century, progress in distillation techniques was spurred by the necessity to produce sugar in Europe; this politically motivated development resulted in numerous patents for the production of alcohol. Depending on the different starting materials, a number of distillation units and the first rectification columns were developed in various European countries . The 19th and 20th centuries saw a rapid development of distillation technology prompted by increasing applications in the petrochemical, chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
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