VLE Data Introduction
The concentration of a vapor in contact with its liquid, especially at equilibrium, is often in terms of vapor pressure, which could be a partial pressure (part of the total gas pressure) if any other gas(es) are present with the vapor. The equilibrium vapor pressure of a liquid is usually very dependent on temperature. At vapor–liquid equilibrium, a liquid with individual components (compounds) in certain concentrations will have an equilibrium vapor in which the concentrations or partial pressures of the vapor components will have certain set values depending on all of the liquid component concentrations and the temperature. The converse is also true: if a vapor with components at certain concentrations or partial pressures is in vapor–liquid equilibrium with its liquid, then the component concentrations in the liquid will be set dependent on the vapor concentrations, again also depending on the temperature. The equilibrium concentration of each component in the liquid phase is often different from its concentration (or vapor pressure) in the vapor phase, but there is a correlation. Such VLE concentration data is often known or can be determined experimentally for vapor–liquid mixtures with various components. In certain cases such VLE data can be determined or approximated with the help of certain theories such as Raoult's law, Dalton's law, and/or Henry's law.
Such VLE information is useful in designing columns for distillation, especially fractional distillation, which is a particular specialty of chemical engineers. Distillation is a process used to separate or partially separate components in a mixture by boiling (vaporization) followed by condensation. Distillation takes advantage of differences in concentrations of components in the liquid and vapor phases.
In mixtures containing two or more components where their concentrations are compared in the vapor and liquid phases, concentrations of each component are often expressed as mole fractions. A mole fraction is number of moles of a given component in an amount of mixture in a phase (either vapor or liquid phase) divided by the total number of moles of all components in that amount of mixture in that phase.
Binary mixtures are those having two components. Three-component mixtures could be called ternary mixtures. There can be VLE data for mixtures with even more components, but such data becomes copious and is often hard to show graphically. VLE data is often shown at a certain overall pressure, such as 1 atm or whatever pressure a process of interest is conducted at. When at a certain temperature, the total of partial pressures of all the components becomes equal to the overall pressure of the system such that vapors generated from the liquid displace any air or other gas which maintained the overall pressure, the mixture is said to boil and the corresponding temperature is the boiling point (This assumes excess pressure is relieved by letting out gases to maintain a desired total pressure). A boiling point at an overall pressure of 1 atm is called the normal boiling point.
Read more about this topic: Saturated Fluid
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