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In 1830, Aeneas Coffey got a patent for improving that design.
With the emergence of chemical engineering as a discipline at the end of the 19th century, scientific rather than empirical methods could be applied.
The developing petroleum industry in the early 20th century provided the impetus for the development of accurate design methods such as the Mc Cabe–Thiele method by Ernest Thiele and the Fenske equation.
In 1822, Anthony Perrier developed one of the first continuous stills.
In 1826, Robert Stein improved that design to make his patent still.
In either case the process exploits differences in the volatility of the mixture's components.
In industrial chemistry, distillation is a unit operation of practically universal importance, but it is a physical separation process and not a chemical reaction. For example: Distillation was known in the ancient Indian subcontinent, evident from baked clay retorts and receivers found at Taxila and Charsadda in modern Pakistan, dating back to the early centuries of the Common Era.
Greater volumes were processed by simply repeating the distillation.
Chemists were reported to carry out as many as 500 to 600 distillations in order to obtain a pure compound.
Distillation in China could have begun during the Eastern Han dynasty (1st–2nd centuries), but the distillation of beverages began in the Jin (12th–13th centuries) and Southern Song (10th–13th centuries) dynasties according to archaeological evidence.
the first book solely dedicated to the subject of distillation, followed in 1512 by a much expanded version.