What Is Solvent Distillation?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 19 August 2019
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Solvent distillation is an industrial process an organization can use to recover solvents after use. Solvent recycling can cut down on waste and lower production expenses. It is also environmentally friendly, and may be important for a company that wants to use natural resources responsibly. Numerous companies manufacture solvent distillation systems for different applications and can also design custom models for specific settings where a generic model will not be sufficient.

In solvent recovery, companies route waste solvents to their solvent distillation equipment, rather than into vats and holding ponds for future disposal. The solvent typically contains a mixture of other materials after going through the system. Filters can trap particulates and clean the fluid. The next step involves heating it and capturing products as they evaporate.

Some solvent distillation takes place in vacuum chambers. This allows the equipment to use relatively low temperatures for distillation, which can be important when heat might damage a solvent or reduce the total amount recovered. The system can recover numerous compounds either in batch or continuous mode, depending on the need and the setting. Recycled material goes back into circulation for use.


Distilling solvent can have a variable efficiency rate. In some cases it may be possible to retrieve more than 90% of the solvent, with very minimal waste. In others, this level of efficiency may not be possible because of factors like contamination, heat damage, and so forth. A company may be able to improve rates by making some changes to its machinery and equipment, if possible. While costly, these changes may pay for themselves in savings as the company will need to buy less solvent.

Dramatic reductions in solvent waste can have tremendous environmental benefits. Many solvents are very harsh and should not be released into the natural environment, which makes them difficult to dispose of safely and appropriately. Recycling limits the amount of overall waste a company needs to deal with and can cut down on waste management costs in addition to reducing the risk of pollution.

The initial purchase of a solvent distillation system can be expensive. It may be advisable to price out purchases, leases, and rentals to see which would be the best choice. Over time, the system's overall cost should be made up with the savings, although this may take several years. Companies that have trouble affording such systems may want to see if government assistance is available; some governments have incentive programs to encourage companies to adopt environmentally friendly practices like solvent recycling.



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Post 1

Solvent recycling also has huge benefits on an industrial scale.

At Tradebe in the UK, we recycle over 100,000 tonnes of waste solvent annually. For simplicity, that is about 100 road tankers full entering our facilities each week.

Solvents such as ETAC, THF, Acetic Acid, Acetonitrile, IPA, Ethanol, Glycol, Xylene, Butanol and the list goes on and on.

Solvents are either returned to the original waste producer cleaned to an agreed specification or they can be recovered to a recycled specification and re-sold into the marketplace.

Not only is the process environmentally sound, but it is also financially beneficial, offering large savings against the virgin solvent prices.

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