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Separating Ethanol From Water Via Differential Miscibility

The differential miscibility of castor oil in ethanol and water would be exploited to separate ethanol from water, according to a proposal. Burning the separated ethanol would produce more energy than would be consumed in the separation process. In contrast, the separation of a small amount of ethanol (actually an ethanol/water solution poor in ethanol) from water by the conventional process of distillation requires more energy than can be produced by burning the resulting distillate. As in the process described in the preceding article, "Separating Ethanol From Water Via Differential Solubility" (LAR-14894), the proposed alcohol/water separation process could be exploited industrially to produce clean fuel from fermented vegetable matter.

In one version of this process, castor oil would be added to an ethanol/water solution. The ethanol would mix freely with castor oil, which is insoluble in water. The resulting ethanol/castor-oil phase, which would contain less than 1 percent water, would collect as the top layer, the bottom layer being the remainder of the ethanol/water solution somewhat depleted in ethanol. Heating this two-layer mixture to a temperature slightly below the boiling temperature of ethanol (78.5 C) would cause the partial pressure of ethanol above the top layer to be much greater than the partial pressure of either castor oil or water. This vapor-phase ethanol could be condensed in a relatively pure state.

Although heating an isolated ethanol/water solution like that in the bottom layer would normally raise the vapor pressure of both ethanol and water above the solution, this would not be the case in the presence of the top castor-oil/ethanol layer for the following reasons: The amount of water that could dissolve in the top castor-oil/ethanol layer would increase only slightly upon heating. On the other hand, ethanol could readily cross the interface between the two layers and enter the top layer. As long as the total mix was kept at a temperature below the boiling temperature of ethanol (thereby preventing agitation of the layers by boiling), the diffusion of water through the castor-oil/ethanol phase would be inhibited.

In an alternative version of this concept, the upper castor-oil/ethanol layer would be skimmed off and heated to obtain the ethanol. Once the ethanol was driven off, the castor oil could be returned to an ethanol/water solution to dissolve more ethanol to repeat the process. This concept could readily lend itself to a continuous process. Substances other than castor oil (one of its components perhaps, or another substance) could be used in this process or to extract other compounds from other mixtures by using this upper-of-two-phases vaporization technique.

This work was done by Renaldo V. Jenkins of Langley Research Center. No further documentation is available. LAR-14895

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CASTOR OIL SPECIFICATIONS

 

 

 

Prepared at the 27th JECFA (1983), published in FNP 28 (1983) and in FNP 52 (1992) Metals and arsenic specifications revised at the 63rd JECFA (2004)

An ADI of 0-0.7 mg/kg bw established at the 23rd JECFA (1979)

 

SYNONYMS

Ricinus oil; INS No. 1503

 

DEFINITION

The fixed oil obtained from the seed of Ricinus Communis L. (family Euphorbiaceae) is essentially the triglyceride of ricinoleic acid.

 

C.A.S. number

8001-79-4

 

DESCRIPTION

Pale yellow or almost colourless, clear, viscous liquid, with a faint, mild odour

 

FUNCTIONAL USES

Carrier solvent, release agent

 

CHARACTERISTICS

 

 

IDENTIFICATION

 

 

Solubility

 

Soluble in 95% ethanol; miscible with absolute ethanol; slightly soluble in light petroleum

Specific gravity

 

0.952 - 0.966

Refractive index

 

n (20, D): 1.477 - 1.481

PURITY

 

 

Acid value

 

Not more than 2

Hydroxyl value 

 

160 - 168

Saponification value 

 

 

176 - 185

Iodine value  

83 - 88

Lead

Not more than 2 mg/kg 

Determine using an atomic absorption technique appropriate to the specified level. The selection of sample size and method of sample preparation may be based on the principles of the method described in Volume 4, “Instrumental Methods.”

 

 

 

 

CASTOR OIL

ICSC: 1452

 

Date of Peer Review: May 2003

 

 

Ricinus oil

CAS #

8001-79-4

 

RTECS #

FI4100000

 

UN #

 

 

EC #

 

 

TYPES OF HAZARD / EXPOSURE

ACUTE HAZARDS / SYMPTOMS

PREVENTION

FIRST AID / FIRE FIGHTING

FIRE

Combustible.

NO open flames.

Powder, carbon dioxide.

EXPLOSION

 

 

 

 

EXPOSURE

 

 

 

Inhalation

 

 

 

Skin

 

 

 

Eyes

 

 

 

Ingestion

Abdominal pain. Diarrhoea. Nausea. Vomiting.

Do not eat, drink, or smoke during work.

 

 

SPILLAGE DISPOSAL

PACKAGING & LABELLING

Collect leaking liquid in covered containers.

EU Classification
UN Classification

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

STORAGE

 

 

 

IPCS
International
Programme on
Chemical Safety

Prepared in the context of cooperation between the International Programme on Chemical Safety and the Commission of the European Communities IPCS, CEC 1999

 

CASTOR OIL

ICSC: 1452

 

IMPORTANT DATA

PHYSICAL STATE; APPEARANCE:
VISCOUS COLOURLESS LIQUID, WITH CHARACTERISTIC ODOUR.

OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE LIMITS:
TLV not established.

EFFECTS OF SHORT-TERM EXPOSURE:
The substance is irritating to the gastrointestinal tract.

EFFECTS OF LONG-TERM OR REPEATED EXPOSURE:
Repeated or prolonged contact with skin may cause dermatitis.

PHYSICAL PROPERTIES

Boiling point: 313C
Melting point: -10 to -18C
Relative density (water = 1): 0.96
Solubility in water: very poor

Flash point: 229C c.c.
Auto-ignition temperature: 448C

ENVIRONMENTAL DATA

 

NOTES

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

LEGAL NOTICE

Neither the CEC nor the IPCS nor any person acting on behalf of the CEC or the IPCS is responsible for the use which might be made of this information

IPCS, CEC 1999

   

 

 

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