The part of a distillation apparatus that cools down vapour till it becomes a liquid. There are two main types of condensers. One is simply an inner tube that is cooled by an outer jacket filled with a liquid like water.

The other type has the inner tube filled with small (usually glass) beads or other shaped small bits of material. The distillate is taken from the top. This type of condenser in effect does thousands of tiny condensations (they occur on each bead) and produces a much more pure product. To achieve a similar effect with the other type, you need to do multiple distillations.

The term "condenser" is also an older word for a capacitor. Nowadays you will usually only see a capacitor referred to as a condenser when it's part of the ignition system for an internal combustion engine.

This is sort of similar to the days when vacuum tubes were sometimes referred to as valves, but as electronics became a more mature engineering field, the terminology became more standardized.

Con*dens"er (?), n.


One who, or that which, condenses.

2. Physic (a) An instrument for condensing air or other elastic fluids, consisting of a cylinder having a movable piston to force the air into a receiver, and a valve to prevent its escape. (b) An instrument for concentrating electricity by the effect of induction between conducting plates separated by a nonconducting plate. (c) A lens or mirror, usually of short focal distance, used to concentrate light upon an object.

3. Chem.

An apparatus for receiving and condensing the volatile products of distillation to a liquid or solid form, by cooling.

4. Steam Engine

An apparatus, separate from the cylinder, in which the exhaust steam is condensed by the action of cold water or air. See Illust. of Steam engine.

Achromatic condenser Optics, an achromatic lens used as a condenser. -- Bull's-eye condenser, ∨ Bull's-eye Optics, a lens of short focal distance used for concentrating rays of light. -- Injection condenser, a vessel in which steam is condensed by the direct contact of water. -- Surface condenser, an apparatus for condensing steam, especially the exhaust of a steam engine, by bringing it into contact with metallic surface cooled by water or air.


© Webster 1913.

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