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Name: Sheryl
Status: other
Grade: other
Location: N/A 
Country: N/A
Date: 5/2/2005

What are the uses of refractive index in Chemical Engineering?

I suppose it is mostly a property of mixtures which can be measured to give a quick diagnostic indication about the composition your chemical stock. I certainly have seen a lot of refractometers in catalogs, calibrated in "Brix scale" to tell the cook how dense her sugar-water is. That kind of thing...

Refractive index does not actually affect chemical behavior much, because light does not usually influence reactions, and because index influences the fate of light rather little compared with absorption.

But in physical theory, index is partly related to dielectric permeability and to cohesion between non-polar molecules. Liquid Xenon has a higher refractive index than Liquid Helium, and also has a higher boiling point. Those two aspects are somewhat related, and occasionally it is nice to understand that. A heavier solvent probably has a higher refractive index, and vice/versa.

Jim Swenson


One use that the refractive index can be used for in Chemical Engineering is finding out the purity of the chemical in question that is being analyzed. I hope that this helps.


Bob Trach

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