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Activated carbon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Activated carbon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Activated carbon, also called activated charcoal, activated coal, or carbo activatus, is a form of carbon processed to be riddled with small, low-volume pores that increase the surface area available for adsorption or chemical reactions. [1] Activated is sometimes substituted with active.

Activated carbon
Activated carbon

Due to its high degree of microporosity, just one gram of activated carbon has a surface area in excess of 500 m 2 , as determined by adsorption isotherms of carbon dioxide gas at room or 0.0 °C

temperature. An activation level sucient for useful application may be attained solely from high surface area; however, further chemical treatment often enhances adsorption properties.

Activated carbon is usually derived from charcoal.


1 Production

1 Production

2 Classi fi cation

2 Classication

2.1 Powdered activated carbon (PAC)

2.1 Powdered activated carbon (PAC)

2.2 Granular activated carbon (GAC)

2.2 Granular activated carbon (GAC)

2.3 Extruded activated carbon (EAC)

2.3 Extruded activated carbon (EAC)

2.4 Bead activated carbon (BAC)

2.4 Bead activated carbon (BAC)

2.5 Impregnated carbon

2.5 Impregnated carbon

2.6 Polymer coated carbon

2.6 Polymer coated carbon

2.7 Other

2.7 Other

3 Properties

3 Properties


Iodine number3.1






Methylene blue3.4




Apparent density3.6


Hardness/abrasion number3.7


Ash content3.8


Carbon tetrachloride activity3.9


3.10 Particle size distribution3.7 Ash content 3.8 Carbon tetrachloride activity 3.9 4 Examples of adsorption 4.1 Heterogeneous catalysis 4.2

4 Examples of adsorption

4 Examples of adsorption

4.1 Heterogeneous catalysis

4.1 Heterogeneous catalysis

4.2 Adsorption refrigeration

4.2 Adsorption refrigeration

5 Applications

5 Applications

4.1 Heterogeneous catalysis 4.2 Adsorption refrigeration 5 Applications 5.1 Analytical chemistry applications

5.1 Analytical chemistry applications

Activated carbon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

5.2 Environmental applications

5.2 Environmental applications

5.3 Medical applications

5.3 Medical applications

5.4 Fuel storage

5.4 Fuel storage

5.5 Gas puri fi cation

5.5 Gas purication

5.6 Chemical puri fi cation

5.6 Chemical purication

5.7 Distilled alcoholic beverage puri fi cation

5.7 Distilled alcoholic beverage purication

5.8 Mercury scrubbing

5.8 Mercury scrubbing

alcoholic beverage puri fi cation 5.8 Mercury scrubbing 5.8.1 Disposal in the USA after absorbing mercury

5.8.1 Disposal in the USA after absorbing mercury

6 Reactivation and Regeneration

6 Reactivation and Regeneration

6.1 Thermal reactivation

6.1 Thermal reactivation

6.2 Other regeneration techniques

6.2 Other regeneration techniques

7 See also

7 See also

8 References

8 References

9 External links

9 External links


Activated carbon is carbon produced from carbonaceous source materials such as nutshells, peat, wood, coir, lignite, coal, and petroleum pitch. It can be produced by one of the following processes:

1. Physical reactivation: The precursor is developed into activated carbons using gases. This is generally done by using one or a combination of the following processes:

by using one or a combination of the following processes: Carbonization : Material with carbon content

Carbonization: Material with carbon content is pyrolyzed at temperatures in the range 600–900 °C, in absence of oxygen (usually in inert atmosphere with gases like argon or nitrogen) Activation/Oxidation: Raw material or carbonized material is exposed to oxidizing atmospheres (carbon dioxide, oxygen, or steam) at temperatures above 250 °C, usually in the temperature range of 600–1200 °C.

2. Chemical activation: Prior to carbonization, the raw material is impregnated with certain chemicals. The chemical is typically an acid, strong base, or a salt [2] (phosphoric acid, potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, calcium chloride, and zinc chloride 25%). Then, the raw material is carbonized at lower temperatures (450–900 °C). It is believed that the carbonization / activation step proceeds simultaneously with the chemical activation. Chemical activation is preferred over physical activation owing to the lower temperatures and shorter time needed for activating material.

Activated carbon is made from coconut shell mainly. It consists of 2 types; ne powder and pills or akes. The ne powder is good at diusing in water, so it is used in solution or liquid related industries. For example, it is used to bleach and absorb odor in sugar industry, to produce cooking oil in food industry, and to purify water. The pill or ake type is used in gas-purifying industries / products; such as, air purier, poisonous gas preventor, and cigarette butt, etc.

The growth of activated carbon market depends on the growth of industries that use it, which vary greatly from air purier industry, drinking water and tap water industry,

Activated carbon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

metal-plated industry, and food industry. In addition, activated carbon can be used in household. Its major household usage is found in products that absorb odors; such as, refrigerator.s stuy smell, wardrobe.s and closet’s smells, etc. Hence, it can be seen that activated carbon market is broad and has a potential for consistent demand in the country. Besides, it can be exported to use in the industries that need high quality activated carbon; such as, in particular kinds of air puriers. However, the import gures are still higher than the export.

Important production materials include coconut shells, palm shells, oil, husks, and sawdust, all of which have to be burnt into ashes for activated carbon making. Also, chemicals such as zinc chloride and phosphoric acid are used.


Activated carbons are complex products which are dicult to classify on the basis of their behaviour, surface characteristics and preparation methods. However, some broad classication is made for general purpose based on their physical characteristics.

Powdered activated carbon (PAC)

Traditionally, active carbons are made in

particulate form as powders or ne granules

less than 1.0 mm in size with an average

diameter between .15 and .25 mm. [3] Thus they present a large surface to volume ratio with a small diusion distance. PAC is made up of crushed or ground carbon particles, 95–100% of which will pass through a designated mesh sieve. Granular activated carbon is dened as the activated carbon retained on a 50-mesh sieve (0.297 mm) and PAC material as ner material, while ASTM classies particle sizes corresponding to an 80-mesh sieve (0.177 mm) and smaller as PAC. PAC is not commonly used in a dedicated vessel, due to the high head loss that would occur. PAC is generally added directly to other

process units, such as raw water intakes, rapid

mix basins, clariers, and gravity lters.

A micrograph of activated charcoal under bright field illumination on a light microscope. Notice the
A micrograph of activated charcoal
under bright field illumination on a
light microscope. Notice the
fractal-like shape of the particles
hinting at their enormous surface area.
Each particle in this image, despite
being only around 0.1 mm wide, has a
surface area of several square metres.
[citation needed] The entire image covers a
region of approximately 1.1 by 0.7 mm,
and the full resolution version is at a
scale of 6.236 pixels/μm.

Granular activated carbon (GAC)

Granular activated carbon has a relatively

larger particle size compared to powdered activated carbon and consequently, presents a smaller external surface. Diusion of the adsorbate is thus an important factor. These carbons are therefore preferred for all

absorption of gases and vapors as their rate of diusion are faster. Granulated carbons are used for water treatment, deodorization and separation of components of ow system. GAC can be either in the granular form or extruded. GAC is designated by sizes

Activated carbon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

such as 8×20, 20×40, or 8×30 for liquid phase applications and 4×6, 4×8 or 4×10 for vapor phase applications. A 20×40 carbon is made of particles that will pass through a U.S. Standard Mesh Size No. 20 sieve (0.84 mm) (generally specied as 85% passing) but be retained on a U.S. Standard Mesh Size No. 40 sieve (0.42 mm) (generally specied as 95% retained). AWWA (1992) B604 uses the 50-mesh sieve (0.297 mm) as the minimum GAC size. The most popular aqueous phase carbons are the 12×40 and 8×30 sizes because they have a good balance of size, surface area, and head loss characteristics.

Extruded activated carbon (EAC)

Extruded activated carbon combines powdered activated carbon with a binder, which are fused together and extruded into a cylindrical shaped activated carbon block with diameters from 0.8 to 130 mm. These are mainly used for gas phase applications because of their low pressure drop, high mechanical strength and low dust content. GAC is also used in rapid mix basins and for waste-water treatment in general.

Bead activated carbon (BAC)

Bead activated carbon is made from petroleum pitch and supplied in diameters from approximately 0.35 to 0.80 mm. Similar to EAC, it is also noted for its low pressure drop, high mechanical strength and low dust content, but with a smaller grain size. Its spherical shape makes it preferred for uidized bed applications such as water ltration.

Impregnated carbon

Porous carbons containing several types of inorganic impregnate such as iodine, silver, cations such as Al, Mn, Zn, Fe, Li, Ca have also been prepared for specic application in air pollution control especially in museums and galleries. Due to its antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, silver loaded activated carbon is used as an adsorbent for purication of domestic water. Drinking water can be obtained from natural water by treating the natural water with a mixture of activated carbon and Al(OH) 3 , a occulating agent. Impregnated carbons are also used for the adsorption of H 2 S and thiols. Absorption rates for H 2 S as high as 50% by weight have been reported.

Polymer coated carbon

This is a process by which a porous carbon can be coated with a biocompatible polymer to give a smooth and permeable coat without blocking the pores. The resulting carbon is useful for hemoperfusion. Hemoperfusion is a treatment technique in which large volumes of the patient's blood are passed over an adsorbent substance in order to remove toxic substances from the blood.


Activated carbon is also available in special forms such as cloths and bres. The "carbon cloth" for instance is used in personnel protection for the military.

Activated carbon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


A gram of activated carbon can have a surface area in excess of 500 m 2 , with 1500 m 2 being readily achievable. [4] Carbon aerogels, while more expensive, have even higher surface areas, and are used in special applications.

Under an electron microscope, the high surface-area structures of activated carbon are revealed. Individual particles are intensely convoluted and display various kinds of porosity; there may be many areas where at surfaces of graphite-like material run parallel to each other, separated by only a few nanometers or so. These micropores provide superb conditions for adsorption to occur, since adsorbing material can interact with many surfaces simultaneously. Tests of adsorption behaviour are usually done with nitrogen gas at 77 K under high vacuum, but in everyday terms activated carbon is perfectly capable of producing the equivalent, by adsorption from its environment, liquid water from steam at 100 °C and a pressure of 1/10,000 of an atmosphere.

Activated carbon, as viewed by an electron microscope
Activated carbon, as viewed by
an electron microscope

James Dewar, the scientist after whom the Dewar (vacuum ask) is named, spent much time studying activated carbon and published a paper regarding its absorption capacity with regard to gases. [5] In this paper, he discovered that cooling the carbon to liquid nitrogen temperatures allowed it to absorb signicant quantities of numerous air gases, among others, that could then be recollected by simply allowing the carbon to warm again and that coconut based carbon was superior for the eect. He uses oxygen as an example, wherein the activated carbon would typically adsorb the atmospheric concentration (21%) under standard conditions, but release over 80% oxygen if the carbon was rst cooled to low temperatures.

Physically, activated carbon binds materials by van der Waals force or London dispersion force.

Activated carbon does not bind well to certain chemicals, including alcohols, glycols, strong acids and bases, metals and most inorganics, such as lithium, sodium, iron, lead, arsenic, uorine, and boric acid.

Activated carbon does adsorb iodine very well and in fact the iodine number, mg/g, (ASTM D28 Standard Method test) is used as an indication of total surface area.

Carbon monoxide is not well adsorbed by activated carbon. This should be of particular concern to those using the material in lters for respirators, fume hoods or other gas control systems as the gas is undetectable to the human senses, toxic to metabolism and neurotoxic.

Substantial lists of the common industrial and agricultural gases absorbed by activated

Activated carbon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

carbon can be found online. [6]

Activated carbon can be used as a substrate for the application of various chemicals to improve the adsorptive capacity for some inorganic (and problematic organic) compounds such as hydrogen sulde (H 2 S), ammonia (NH 3 ), formaldehyde (HCOH), radioisotopes iodine-131( 131 I) and mercury (Hg). This property is known as chemisorption.

Iodine number

Many carbons preferentially absorb small molecules. Iodine number is the most fundamental parameter used to characterize activated carbon performance. It is a measure of activity level (higher number indicates higher degree of activation), often reported in mg/g (typical range 500–1200 mg/g). It is a measure of the micropore content of the activated carbon (0 to 20 Å, or up to 2 nm) by adsorption of iodine from solution. It is equivalent to surface area of carbon between 900 m²/g and 1100 m²/g. It is the standard measure for liquid phase applications.

Iodine number is dened as the milligrams of iodine adsorbed by one gram of carbon when the iodine concentration in the residual ltrate is 0.02 normal. Basically, iodine number is a measure of the iodine adsorbed in the pores and, as such, is an indication of the pore volume available in the activated carbon of interest. Typically, water treatment carbons have iodine numbers ranging from 600 to 1100. Frequently, this parameter is used to determine the degree of exhaustion of a carbon in use. However, this practice should be viewed with caution as chemical interactions with the adsorbate may aect the iodine uptake giving false results. Thus, the use of iodine number as a measure of the degree of exhaustion of a carbon bed can only be recommended if it has been shown to be free of chemical interactions with adsorbates and if an experimental correlation between iodine number and the degree of exhaustion has been determined for the particular application.


Some carbons are more adept at adsorbing large molecules. Molasses number or molasses eciency is a measure of the mesopore content of the activated carbon (greater than 20 Å, or larger than 2 nm) by adsorption of molasses from solution. A high molasses number indicates a high adsorption of big molecules (range 95–600). Caramel dp (decolorizing performance) is similar to molasses number. Molasses eciency is reported as a percentage (range 40%–185%) and parallels molasses number (600 = 185%, 425 = 85%). The European molasses number (range 525–110) is inversely related to the North American molasses number.

Molasses Number is a measure of the degree of decolorization of a standard molasses solution that has been diluted and standardized against standardized activated carbon. Due to the size of color bodies, the molasses number represents the potential pore volume available for larger adsorbing species. As all of the pore volume may not be available for adsorption in a particular waste water application, and as some of the adsorbate may enter smaller pores, it is not a good measure of the worth of a particular activated carbon for a specic application. Frequently, this parameter is useful in

Activated carbon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

evaluating a series of active carbons for their rates of adsorption. Given two active carbons with similar pore volumes for adsorption, the one having the higher molasses number will usually have larger feeder pores resulting in more ecient transfer of adsorbate into the adsorption space.


Tannins are a mixture of large and medium size molecules. Carbons with a combination of macropores and mesopores adsorb tannins. The ability of a carbon to adsorb tannins is reported in parts per million concentration (range 200 ppm–362 ppm).

Methylene blue

Some carbons have a mesopore (20 Å to 50 Å, or 2 to 5 nm) structure which adsorbs medium size molecules, such as the dye methylene blue. Methylene blue adsorption is reported in g/100g (range 11–28 g/100g).


Some carbons are evaluated based on the dechlorination half-life length, which measures the chlorine-removal eciency of activated carbon. The dechlorination half-value length is the depth of carbon required to reduce the chlorine level of a owing stream from 5 ppm to 3.5 ppm. A lower half-value length indicates superior performance.

Apparent density

The solid or skeletal density of activated carbons will typically range between 2.0 and 2.1 g/cm^3 (125-130 lbs./cubic foot). However, a large part of an activated carbon sample will consist of air space between particles, and the actual or apparent density will therefore be lower, typically 0.4 to 0.5 g/cm^3 (25-31 lbs./cubic foot). [7]

Higher density provides greater volume activity and normally indicates better-quality activated carbon.

Hardness/abrasion number

It is a measure of the activated carbon’s resistance to attrition. It is an important indicator of activated carbon to maintain its physical integrity and withstand frictional forces imposed by backwashing, etc. There are large dierences in the hardness of activated carbons, depending on the raw material and activity level.

Ash content

Ash reduces the overall activity of activated carbon and it reduces the eciency of reactivation. The metal oxides (Fe 2 O 3 ) can leach out of activated carbon resulting in discoloration. Acid/water soluble ash content is more signicant than total ash content. Soluble ash content can be very important for aquarists, as ferric oxide can promote algal growths. A carbon with a low soluble ash content should be used for marine,

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freshwater sh and reef tanks to avoid heavy metal poisoning and excess plant/algal growth.

Carbon tetrachloride activity

Measurement of the porosity of an activated carbon by the adsorption of saturated carbon tetrachloride vapour.

Particle size distribution

The ner the particle size of an activated carbon, the better the access to the surface area and the faster the rate of adsorption kinetics. In vapour phase systems this needs to be considered against pressure drop, which will aect energy cost. Careful consideration of particle size distribution can provide signicant operating benets.

Examples of adsorption

Heterogeneous catalysis

The most commonly encountered form of chemisorption in industry, occurs when a solid catalyst interacts with a gaseous feedstock, the reactant/s. The adsorption of reactant/s to the catalyst surface creates a chemical bond, altering the electron density around the reactant molecule and allowing it to undergo reactions that would not normally be available to it.

Adsorption refrigeration

Adsorption refrigeration and heat pump cycles rely on the adsorption of a refrigerant gas into an adsorbent at low pressure and subsequent desorption by heating. The adsorbent acts as a "chemical compressor" driven by heat and is, from this point of view, the "pump" of the system. It consists of a solar collector, a condenser or heat-exchanger and an evaporator that is placed in a refrigerator box. The inside of the collector is lined with an adsorption bed packed with activated carbon adsorbed with methanol. The refrigerator box is insulated and lled with water. The activated carbon can adsorb a large amount of methanol vapours in ambient temperature and desorb it at a higher temperature (around 100 degrees Celsius). During the daytime, the sunshine irradiates the collector, so the collector is heated up and the methanol is desorbed from the activated carbon. In desorption, the liquid methanol adsorbed in the charcoal heats up and vaporizes. The methanol vapour condenses and is stored in the evaporator.

At night, the collector temperature decreases to the ambient temperature, and the charcoal adsorbs the methanol from the evaporator. The liquid methanol in the evaporator vaporizes and absorbs the heat from the water contained in the trays. Since adsorption is a process of releasing heat, the collector must be cooled eciently at night. As mentioned above, the adsorption refrigeration system operates in an intermittent way to produce the refrigerating eect.

Helium gas can also be "pumped" by thermally cycling activated carbon "sorption

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pumps" between 4 kelvins and higher temperatures. An example of this is to provide the cooling power for the Oxford Instruments AST series dilution refrigerators. 3 He vapour is pumped from the surface of the dilute phase of a mixture of liquid 4 He and its isotope 3 He. The 3 He is adsorbed onto the surfaces of the carbon at low temperature (typically <4K), the regeneration of the pump between 20 and 40 K returns the 3 He to the concentrated phase of the liquid mixture. Cooling occurs at the interface between the two liquid phases as 3 He "evaporates" across the phase boundary. If more than one pump is present in the system a continuous ow of gas and hence constant cooling power can be obtained, by having one sorption pump regenerating while the other is pumping. Systems such as this allow temperatures as low as 10 mK (0.01 kelvin) to be obtained with very few moving parts.


Activated carbon is used in gas purication, decaeination, gold purication, metal extraction, water purication, medicine, sewage treatment, air lters in gas masks and respirators, lters in compressed air and many other applications.

One major industrial application involves use of activated carbon in the metal nishing eld. It is very widely employed for purication of electroplating solutions. For example, it is a main purication technique for removing organic impurities from bright nickel plating solutions. A variety of organic chemicals are added to plating solutions for improving their deposit qualities and for enhancing properties like brightness, smoothness, ductility, etc. Due to passage of direct current and electrolytic reactions of anodic oxidation and cathodic reduction, organic additives generate unwanted break down products in solution. Their excessive build up can adversely aect the plating quality and physical properties of deposited metal. Activated carbon treatment removes such impurities and restores plating performance to the desired level.

Analytical chemistry applications

Activated carbon, in 50% w/w combination with celite, is used as stationary phase in low-pressure chromatographic separation of carbohydrates (mono-, di- trisaccharides) using ethanol solutions (5–50%) as mobile phase in analytical or preparative protocols.

Environmental applications

Carbon adsorption has numerous applications in removing pollutants from air or water streams both in the eld and in industrial processes such as:

Spill cleanupboth in the fi eld and in industrial processes such as: Groundwater remediation Drinking water fi

Groundwater remediationfi eld and in industrial processes such as: Spill cleanup Drinking water fi ltration Air puri

Drinking water fi ltration ltration

Air purifi cation cation

Volatile organic compounds capture from painting, dry cleaning, gasoline dispensing operations, and other processes.remediation Drinking water fi ltration Air puri fi cation In 2007, West-Flanders University (in Belgium) began

In 2007, West-Flanders University (in Belgium) began research in water treatment after

Activated carbon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

festivals. [8] A full scale activated carbon installation was built at the Dranouter music festival in 2008, with plans to utilize the technology to treat water at this festival for the next 20 years. [8]

Activated carbon is also used for the measurement of radon concentration in air.

Medical applications

Activated carbon is used to treat poisonings and overdoses following oral ingestion.

It is thought to bind the poison and prevent its absorption by the gastrointestinal tract. In cases of suspected poisoning, medical personnel administer activated carbon on the scene or at a hospital's emergency department. Dosing is usually 1 gram/kg of body mass (for adolescents or adults, give 50–100 g), usually given only once, but depending on the drug taken, it may be given more than once. In rare situations activated carbon is used in Intensive Care to lter out harmful drugs from the blood stream of poisoned patients. Activated carbon has become the treatment of choice for many poisonings, and other decontamination methods such as ipecac-induced emesis or stomach pumping are now used rarely.

Activated carbon is usually used in water filtration systems. In this illustration, the activated carbon
Activated carbon is usually
used in water filtration
systems. In this
illustration, the activated
carbon is in the fourth
level (counted from

While activated carbon is useful in acute poisoning, it has been shown to not be eective in long term accumulation of toxins, such as with the use of toxic herbicides. [9]

Mechanisms of action:

Binding of the toxin to prevent stomach and intestinal absorption. Binding is reversible so a cathartic such as sorbitol may be added as well.the use of toxic herbicides. [ 9 ] Mechanisms of action: It interrupts the enterohepatic and

It interrupts the enterohepatic and enteroenteric circulation of some drugs/toxins and their a cathartic such as sorbitol may be added as well. Incorrect application (e.g. into the

Incorrect application (e.g. into the lungs) results in pulmonary aspiration which can sometimes be fatal if immediate medical treatment is not initiated. [10] The use of activated carbon is contraindicated when the ingested substance is an acid, an alkali, or a petroleum product.

For pre-hospital (EMT) use, it comes in plastic tubes or bottles, commonly 12.5 or

25 grams, pre-mixed with water. The trade names include InstaChar, SuperChar,

Actidose, Charcodote, and Liqui-Char, but it is commonly called activated charcoal.

Ingestion of activated carbon prior to consumption of alcoholic beverages appeared to

reduce absorption of ethanol into the blood. 5 to 15 milligrams of charcoal per kilogram of body weight taken at the same time as 170 ml of pure ethanol (which equals to about

10 servings of an alcoholic beverage), over the course of one hour, seemed to reduce

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potential blood alcohol content. [11] Yet other studies showed that this is not the case, and that ethanol blood concentrations were increased because of activated charcoal use. [12]

Charcoal biscuits were sold in England starting in the early 19th century, originally as an antidote to atulence and stomach trouble. [13]

Tablets or capsules of activated carbon are used in many countries as an over-the-counter drug to treat diarrhea, indigestion, and atulence. [14] Previous versions of this article have claimed that evidence exists that it is eective in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), [15] but the reference study given did not use activated carbon (or activated charcoal), rather tablets of non-activated charcoal. It has also been used to prevent diarrhea in cancer patients who have received irinotecan. [16] It can interfere with the absorption of some medications, and lead to unreliable readings in medical tests such as the guaiac card test. [17] Activated carbon is also used for bowel preparation by reducing intestinal gas content before abdominal radiography to visualize bile and pancreatic and renal stones. A type of charcoal biscuit has also been marketed as a pet care product. [18]

Fuel storage

Activated charcoal for medical use
Activated charcoal for
medical use

Research is being done testing various activated carbons' ability to store natural gas and hydrogen gas. The porous material acts like a sponge for dierent types of gases. The gas is attracted to the carbon material via Van der Waals forces. Some carbons have been able to achieve bonding energies of 5–10 kJ per mol. The gas may then be desorbed when subjected to higher temperatures and either combusted to do work or in the case of hydrogen gas extracted for use in a hydrogen fuel cell. Gas storage in activated carbons is an appealing gas storage method because the gas can be stored in a low pressure, low mass, low volume environment that would be much more feasible than bulky on board compression tanks in vehicles. The United States Department of Energy has specied certain goals to be achieved in the area of research and development of nano-porous carbon materials. As of yet all of the goals are yet to be satised but numerous institutions, including the ALL-CRAFT program, [19] are continuing to conduct work in this promising eld.

Gas purication

Filters with activated carbon are usually used in compressed air and gas purication to remove oil vapors, odors, and other hydrocarbons from the air. The most common designs use a 1 stage or 2 stage ltration principle in which activated carbon is

Activated carbon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

embedded inside the lter media. Activated carbon is also used in spacesuit Primary Life Support Systems. Activated carbon lters are used to retain radioactive gases from a nuclear boiling water reactor turbine condenser. The air vacuumed from the condenser contains traces of radioactive gases. The large charcoal beds adsorb these gases and retain them while they rapidly decay to non-radioactive solid species. The solids are trapped in the charcoal particles, while the ltered air passes through.

Chemical purication

Activated carbon is commonly used to purify solutions containing un-wanted colored impurities such as during a recrystallization procedure in Organic Chemistry.

Distilled alcoholic beverage purication

See also: Lincoln County Process

Activated carbon lters can be used to lter vodka and whiskey of organic impurities which can aect color, taste, and odor. Passing an organically impure vodka through an activated carbon lter at the proper ow rate will result in vodka with an identical alcohol content and signicantly increased organic purity, as judged by odor and taste.

[citation needed]

Mercury scrubbing

Activated carbon, often impregnated with iodine or sulfur, is widely used to trap mercury emissions from coal-red power stations, medical incinerators, and from natural gas at the wellhead. This carbon is a specialty product costing more than US$4.00 per kg. However, it is often not recycled.

Disposal in the USA after absorbing mercury

The mercury laden activated carbon presents a disposal dilemma. [20] If the activated carbon contains less than 260 ppm mercury, Federal regulations allow it to be stabilized (for example, trapped in concrete) for landlling. [citation needed] However, waste containing greater than 260 ppm is considered to be in the high mercury subcategory and is banned from landlling (Land-Ban Rule). [citation needed] It is this material which is now accumulating in warehouses and in deep abandoned mines at an estimated rate of 1000 tons per year. [citation needed]

The problem of disposal of mercury laden activated carbon is not unique to the U.S. In the Netherlands this mercury is largely recovered [21] and the activated carbon is disposed of by complete burning.

Reactivation and Regeneration

The reactivation or the regeneration of activated carbons involves restoring the adsorptive capacity of saturated activated carbon by desorbing adsorbed contaminants

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on the activated carbon surface.

Thermal reactivation

The most common regeneration technique employed in industrial processes is thermal reactivation. [22] The thermal regeneration process generally follows three steps [23] :

Adsorbent drying at approximately 105 °Cprocess generally follows three steps [ 2 3 ] : High temperature desorption and decomposition (500–900°C)

High temperature desorption and decomposition (500–900°C) under an inert atmosphere[ 2 3 ] : Adsorbent drying at approximately 105 °C Residual organic gasi fi cation

Residual organic gasifi cation by an oxidising gas (steam or carbon dioxide) at elevated temperatures (800°C) cation by an oxidising gas (steam or carbon dioxide) at elevated temperatures (800°C)

The heat treatment stage utilises the exothermic nature of adsorption and results in desorption, partial cracking and polymerization of the adsorbed organics. The nal step aims to remove charred organic residue formed in the porous structure in the previous stage and re-expose the porous carbon structure regenerating its original surface characteristics. After treatment the adsorption column can be reused. Per adsorption- thermal regeneration cycle between 5–15 wt% of the carbon bed is burnt oresulting in a loss of adsorptive capacity. [24] Thermal regeneration is a high energy process due to the high required temperatures making it both an energetically and commercially expensive process. [23] Plants that rely on thermal regeneration of activated carbon have to be of a certain size before it is economically viable to have regeneration facilities onsite. As a result it is common for smaller waste treatment sites to ship their activated carbon cores to a specialised facility for regeneration, increasing the process' already signicant carbon footprint. [25]

Activated carbon used in consumer devices such as oil deep fryers or air and water lters can similarly be reactivated using commonly available heating appliances such as a baking oven, toaster oven, or simply a propane torch. [citation needed] The carbon is removed from any paper or plastic containers that could melt or ignite, and heated to vaporize and/or burn ocontaminants.

Other regeneration techniques

Current concerns with the high energy/cost nature of thermal regeneration of activated carbon has encouraged research into alternative regeneration methods to reduce the environmental impact of such processes. Though several of the regeneration techniques cited have remained areas of purely academic research, some alternatives to thermal regeneration systems have been employed in industry. Current alternative regeneration methods are:

Chemical and solvent regeneration [ 2 6 ] [26]

Microbial regeneration [ 2 7 ] [27]

Electrochemical regeneration [ 2 8 ] [28]

Ultrasonic regeneration [ 2 9 ] [29]

Wet air oxidation [ 3 0 ] [30]

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See also

Carbon black See also Carbon fi ltering Conjugated microporous polymer

Carbon fi ltering ltering

Conjugated microporous polymerSee also Carbon black Carbon fi ltering References Kværner-process Onboard refueling vapor recovery


Kværner-processfi ltering Conjugated microporous polymer References Onboard refueling vapor recovery Carbocatalysis Hydrogen

Onboard refueling vapor recoveryConjugated microporous polymer References Kværner-process Carbocatalysis Hydrogen Storage Sow-Hsin Chen 1.

CarbocatalysisReferences Kværner-process Onboard refueling vapor recovery Hydrogen Storage Sow-Hsin Chen 1. "Properties of

Hydrogen StorageOnboard refueling vapor recovery Carbocatalysis Sow-Hsin Chen 1. "Properties of Activated

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External links

2-8) . PMID 11942707 (// /11942707) .

"Imaging the atomic structure of activated carbon" ( /~scsharip/Activated_carbon_JPCM.pdf) – JOURNAL OF PHYSICS: CONDENSED MATTER. PMID 11942707 (// /11942707) . Engber, Daniel (Nov. 28, 2005). "How Does Activated

Engber, Daniel (Nov. 28, 2005). "How Does Activated Carbon Work?" ( . Slate . Slate.

"What is adsorption?" ( /adsorption)Work?" ( . Slate . Retrieved from

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