There are many types of packing that can be used to fill a packed
distillation column. They fall into two main categories, random
packing and structured packing.
The geometry of packing is the key to its efficiency. Generally
speaking, high free space and high surface area improve efficiency of the
packing and decrease back pressure. For random packing the geometry
should not have any place for liquid to pool regardless of the orientation
of the piece of packing. Packing should also be compatible with the
material being distilled.
is formed from metal ribbon through which more than 1000 tiny holes per
square inch have been punched. As the points of the dye push through the
metal, jagged burrs are formed on the reverse side of the ribbon.
Pro-Pak's self-wetting properties derive from a rectangular network of
capillaries on the surface of the metal, produced by the combined effect
of the holes in the ribbon and the roughness of the burrs. These
properties ensure that Pro-Pak stays wet in service in the distillation
column and retains its high efficiency. Because the surface area of the
packing remains effective under low liquid loadings, high column
efficiency is maintained at vapor velocities very much lower than the
Heli-Pak is formed from a metal wire wound around a twisted rectangular
rod. It has a free space of 83%. It is most commonly available
in stainless steel but is also available in , nichrome, monel, nickel, hastelloy "B":,
bronze, and tantalum.
This is an inert packing made of ceramic. It is ideal for corrosive
materials or those that will react with metal packing. It is not as
efficient as other packing types but is useful for distilling materials
that are not compatible with metal.
This packing is great for rugged industrial type fractional distillation
equipment. It is normally made of stainless steel.
Specialized Structured Packing
There are other types of high-tech structured packing that are very
efficient. These are most commonly available in stainless steel but
other materials are also available. These tend to have very high
open space values as well as very high costs.
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