Al-Inbique

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   By Eng. Mazen Al plane
 Chemistry was one of the basic sciences for which Arabs and Muslims were famous. Therefore, the scientists made many tools that help them doing their researches. One of these tools is al-inbique which is invented by the scientist Jabir bin Hayyan in 800 AD.

 

It is an apparatus for distilling liquids. It is used in chemistry as a still. It consists of two curvatures connected to a tube. Al-inbique forms only the upper part (the top of the still). The lower part is called the gourd or al-inbique container. The word ' al-inbique' often refers to the apparatus of distilling as a whole. Al-Khwarizmi, in his book 'Keys of Science', mentioned the following: "Gourd and al-inbique are two apparatuses used by rose-water makers, the bottom is the gourd, the top, which has the form of a cup, is al-inbique". Nowadays, al-inbique can be compared to the pot still which is an apparatus for distilling alcohol.

Al-indique consists of:
1- A burner or any other way for heating.
2- Heating container, usually a round flask with a suitable neck to connect the condenser (which was called the gourd) to it.
3- A condenser (which was called al-inbique).
4- A container for receiving the distilled material (it was called al-qabila).
To evaporate the mixture, it should be heated in a boiler. In this mixture, the material which boils in a lower temperature is the first one to evaporate. The vapor enters the condenser, becomes cold, then it turns to liquid again. This liquid is called 'the distilled', after that, it gathers in the receiving container.

Work process     
   It is, briefly, a process of separating materials by heat. There is no need to other additions, solvents, or chemicals. It depends on differences in the rate of  boiling of the liquids to be separated. Chemists call this difference the difference of steam-pressure of materials at certain temperature. As shown in the next figure: When we heat the mixture of liquids 1 (its boiling rate is low) and liquid 2 (its boiling rate is high), with an initial rate of the mixture 0.1. The temperature of the mixture rises and reaches the boiling curvature (the liquid curvature is in blue). The steam over the boiled liquid is rich with the vapor of the low boiling rate liquid and poor with the vapor of the high boiling rate liquid (follow the horizontal arrow from left to right at a fixed temperature, where it meets steam curvature (the red line)). The arrow meets steam curvature at 0.6 rate (which means that the rate of the liquid to be purified by steam is 60%). By condensing the steam we get a liquid equals in rate the rate of the two liquids in steam. Therefore, the resultant liquid becomes rich with the liquid of the low boiling rate. It is observer that by the time the rate of the (volatile) liquid becomes as low as the high boiling rate liquid in the boiling bottle.

 How Ibn Hayyan used all-unique to extract nitric acid?
   Ibn Hayyan's way in preparing nitric acid (silver water or strong water) depends on mixing a pound of Cyprus vitriol, a pound of saltpeter (Potassium nitrate) and one fourth of Yemeni alum. The mixture ascends by a strong fire on the gourd an inbique. The receiving container receives the strong water.
   Using al-inbique spread in making perfumes of superior quality in the Islamic world, especially rose perfume. It is still used up till now. It should be noted that the way used today in extracting alcohol is a developed way of distilling process by al-inbique. Here is the figure of the condenser used today which is an advanced shape of al-inbique.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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