Solvent extraction

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Benzoic acid is extracted from an organic compound. The solvent used is MTBE. All of this is done in a diluted soilution of Sodium bicarbonate. Benzoic acid is converted to Sodium benzoate. Sodium benzoate changes from the organic solvent to the water phase, neutral Benzil (shown in yellow) remains in the organic phase. In this case, the organic supstance is on top, because the density of the organic solvent MTBE (0,74 g·cm−3) is lower than that of the other phase (about 1,00 g·cm−3).

Solvent extraction, also known as Liquid–liquid extraction or partitioning, is a method to separate a compound based on the solubility of its parts. This is done using two liquids that don't mix, for example water and an organic solvent.

Solvent extraction is used in the processing of perfumes, vegetable oil, or biodiesel. It is also used to recover plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel, a process which is usually called nuclear reprocessing. The recovered plutonium can then be re-used as nuclear fuel.