© Alexander Knebel, KIT

In simple terms, distillation is the process of separating liquids from each other using a thermal process. This enables the recovery of evaporated liquids for one thing. In addition, solvents can be separated from substances that are difficult to evaporate and which are then recaptured via condensation. Although this traditional process is very effective, it is nevertheless energy-intensive.

Scientists at the German Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now developed a process that might make distillation obsolete. All thanks to new ‘porous liquids.’ This process entails letting nanoparticles float in a solvent which separates gas molecules of varying sizes from one another. This is accomplished when empty pores in the particles have apertures that only molecules of a certain size can pass through. Larger molecules remain on the outside and are separated from the smaller ones this way. The researchers explain that these porous liquids could be used directly, but they could also be turned into membranes, “which are able to efficiently separate propene from gas compounds as the raw material for the widely used plastic polypropylene.”

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About the author

Author profile picture Petra Wiesmayer is a journalist and author who has conducted countless interviews with high-profile individuals and researched and written general entertainment, motorsports, and science articles for international publications. She is fascinated by technology that could shape the future of mankind and enjoys reading and writing about it.As an avid science fiction fan she is fascinated by technology that could shape the future of mankind and enjoys reading and writing about it.