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Theoretically speaking, how could one separate a solution of n-butanol and nitroethane? They have a similar boiling point, so fractional distillation would be not possible. Wikipedia also states that nitroethane is more miscible in water than butanol, but that would probably give a water nitroethane azeotrope (?). Can anyone tell how the separation could be achieved? Also, would it be a difference between a 50:50 solution and a 5:95 (vice versa)?

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Use counter-current extraction.

I'm not sure about solvents, but let's say that I can separate nitromethane from water by distillation. Also that butanol can be separated from ether by distillation. (as I remember ether and water aren't miscible...)

So I line up 7 sepatory funnels.

Into sepatory funnel #4 I put my mixture and 50 ml of water and 50 ml of ether. Equilibrate then water phase goes to sepatory funnel #5 and ether phase goes to sepatory funnel #3. Sepatory funnel #4 is now empty.

In sepatory funnel #5 I add 50 ml ether, Equilibrate then water phase goes to sepatory funnel #6 and ether phase goes to sepatory funnel #4

In sepatory funnel #3 I add 50 ml water, Equilibrate, then water phase goes to sepatory funnel #4 and ether phase goes to sepatory funnel #2

So basically I have the water extracts going one way and the ether extracts the other way.

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