Water and acetone make no azeotrope at normal pressure so some distillation method will work. The purity you need decides the number of steps - hum.http://www.solvent--recycling.com/azeotrope_1.html
To the very least, the setup you propose is far too dangerous
. Acetone is highly flammable and its vapour shouldn't be breathed, so heating a drum is the wrong way, worse within a building.
Companies supply distillation apparatus, you should consult them. Or ask your acetone supplier if it would recycle the product.
Until you have the distillation apparatus, you can save much acetone by using successive acetone baths
for the silica gel batches. That is:
- Each silica batch passes through successive baths, the first acetone bath contains some water, only the last is very dry.
- Acetone will absorb humidity. Once the wettest bath gets unusable, discard or recycle
it - but only this one
- Introduce a new very dry acetone bath. Degrade all others one step: the previous very dry bath is the new almost-dry one, the previous almost-wet bath is the new wettest one.
My preferred process would go a bit differently: I'd let acetone vapour dehydrate the silica gel
, as is done with vapour degreasing, vapour cleaning...
Have the acetone at the bottom of a container where you heat gently. Put the silica gel at the top, outside the liquid, and keep it colder than the liquid - or cool the acetone vapour independently, above the silica gel.
That way, you can accept more water in the acetone, since evaporation favours acetone. The vapour, possibly after condensation, will catch water from the silica gel and fall back into the liquid bottom.
The multistep scheme previously described applies here as well, and you can combine the successive dehydration stations of silica gel with a fractional distillation
of acetone and water, in a single apparatus.
Please be careful
with that! My intuition tells you lack the necessary qualifications for the process. Ask a specialized company. To the very least, don't tinker within a building! Maybe you can adapt a dry cleaning machinehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_cleaning
but chances are that acetone destroys the seals, and you get vapour everywhere even before.
Could dry nitrogen be good enough, instead of acetone? End users just put the silica gel in an oven to dry it. You could cycle the nitrogen, with a good heat exchanger, between a chilled end where water condensates away, and a hot end where the gas carries humidity away from the silica gel. A regenerative heat exchanger and a pulsating gas movement, like in a Stirling engine, would make it more compact.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stirling_engine