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(separation of compounds from a mixture)

Fractionation is the separation of compounds from a mixture. In a lab, (at least) two common methods are the use of a centrifuge, or through distillation, the former method by accelerating the mixture to the point that denser compounds "push aside" less dense compounds, and the latter method by raising the temperature to the point that one of the compounds "boils away".

Both these processes can occur in nature (e.g., iron falling into the center of a forming planet to form an iron core) and are components of planet formation and atmosphere formation.

The term is also used for the separation of isotopes (isotope fractionation).

Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
fractionation factor