posted by Chelsea .
Why is it not possible to achieve a complete separation of the ethanol from the water in the clarified reaction mixture via simple distillation?
I'm not sure about this because I thought the difference between fractional (what was done) and simple distillation is that fractional distillation is performed to purify mixtures in which the components have close boiling points. However, ethanol has a boiling point of 78.4 degrees Celsius and water has a boiling point of 100 degrees Celsius, which really are not close. Please Help!
Does water vaporize at 78.4C? That is the point, I think, you are collecting vapors and condensing them in distillation. Some water vapor is present at 78C, and it is condensed with the alcohol.