Zoe R. Boehman, Austin G. Dias, Luke F. Flottman, Katelyn Leigh Petrycki


Presentation: 10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Kennedy Union Ballroom

This project reflects research conducted as part of a course project designed to give students experience in the research process.

Course: CME 499



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Liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) is a separation technique that transfers a solute between two immiscible solvents. The separation of ethanol through LLE is prevalent in biomass purification, gas additives, and the food safety industries. This research aims to generate a new experiment involving LLE processes in the Unit Operations laboratory at UD. Castor oil served as the organic phase to separate ethanol from water due to their differences in miscibility. The effectiveness of castor oil was measured using a mixer-settler unit (~ 2 L) with a 5 wt.% ethanol/water mixture. Volumetric ratios of castor oil to ethanol, such as 6:4, 5:5, and 7:3, were pumped, mixed, and run in the mixer-settler apparatus. At various time intervals, samples were taken from oil and aqueous phases, centrifuged, and analyzed using gas chromatography or a densitometer. Extracted samples did not reach equilibrium, and a discrepancy existed between the experimental results and the theoretical model found using a ternary diagram. Additional trials involving an extra settling chamber showed that longer mixing-settling times led to enhanced ethanol extraction. Centrifugation, however, was needed to separate the two phases. A second organic solvent, Multitherm heat transfer fluid, separates from the aqueous phase faster than castor oil. We performed small-scale experiments (10 mL) at different ratios of Multitherm to 5 wt.% ethanol/water solutions, such as 1:1, 6:4, 7:3, 8:2, 9:1, and 2:8. The 2:8 mixture showed enhanced separation based on ethanol concentration in the aqueous phase. Conversely, 2:8 mixtures of 5 wt.% ethanol/oil solution to water were mixed and analyzed. Unfortunately, ethanol stayed immiscible with the oil, and the water phase only removed 1.2 wt.% ethanol. The new mixture was targeted for ease of phase separation when running the mixer-settler unit, and the preliminary trials allowed for pursuing experimentation for a closed system mixer-settler unit.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project

Primary Advisor

Michael J. Elsass, Erick Vasquez

Primary Advisor's Department

Chemical and Materials Engineering


Stander Symposium project, School of Engineering

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Responsible Consumption and Production

Design and Validation of a Liquid-Liquid Extraction Unit Operation Experiment