What is activated carbon? Manufacturing, Types and Applications

What Is Activated Carbon? Manufacturing, Types And Applications

Activated carbon, as a versatile adsorbent, plays an irreplaceable role across various industries. Whether it’s water treatment, air purification, food production, or medical applications, activated carbon serves as a crucial element. If you are exploring the question, “What is activated carbon?” you’re in the right place.

This article aims to delve into the manufacturing process, various types, and extensive applications of active carbon.

Through this read, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of activated carbon, including its production process, diverse types, and significant roles across multiple industries.

What Is Activated Carbon?

Carbón activado is a porous, highly adsorbent carbon-based material capable of efficiently adsorbing and removing impurity molecules from liquids or gases. It typically originates from natural raw materials such as wood, coconut shell, or coal, among others. The preparation process involves high-temperature treatment and activation, aiming to increase its surface area and the number of micro-pores.

Activated carbon, owing to its outstanding adsorption capabilities and efficient removal of various organic and inorganic substances, finds widespread application in water treatment, air purification, food processing, pharmaceuticals, and industrial sectors. The diversity in raw materials imparts specific physical and chemical properties to cater to the purification and filtration needs across different domains.

The manufacturing process and diverse types of carbonactivated contribute significantly to its pivotal role in environmental protection, health, and industrial domains, making it a key solution to addressing many critical issues.

Types Of Activated Carbon

Before delving into the manufacturing and applications of activated carbon, let’s explore the different types of activated carbon. Here are some common types and their features:

Powdered Activated Carbon (PAC)

Powdered Activated Carbon PAC

Carbón activado en polvo consists of fine carbon particles usually below 0.18mm (80 mesh). Its small particle size provides a significantly high surface area, enabling rapid adsorption of contaminants in both liquids and gases. It’s widely used in water treatment, wastewater remediation, and certain industrial processes for pollution control.

Granulated Activated Carbon (GAC)

Granular Activated Carbon GAC

Carbón activado granulado has larger particle sizes, typically ranging from 0.5 to 4mm. The larger granules in GAC offer durability in various applications and allow for reusability and regeneration. It’s primarily used in water purification systems, gas purification, and color and taste removal in food and beverage industries.

Extruded Activated Carbon (EAC)

Extruded Activated Carbon EAC

Extruded Activated Carbon is formed by mixing powdered or granular activated carbon with a binder and then extruding it into specific shapes such as cylindrical, spherical, or other tailored forms. EAC is widely used in gas-phase adsorption and as a catalyst carrier due to its uniform pore structure and high mechanical strength.

Activated Carbon Cloth or Fiber (CFAC)

Activated Carbon Cloth Or Fiber

Activated carbon cloth and fiber consist of activated carbon powder adhered to fibers or fabric surfaces. This form of activated carbon offers flexibility and breathability, suitable for applications requiring extensive coverage with lightweight materials, such as protective clothing, air filters, and wound care products.

Specialty Functional Activated Carbon

Specialty Functional Activated Carbon

Advancements in technology have led to specialized activated carbon products with specific functions. These activated carbons undergo special treatments or have specific chemicals added to address particular problems, such as controlling odors in pet products or inhibiting bacterial growth in hospitals and food processing facilities.

Each type serves specific applications, and selecting the appropriate activated carbon can significantly enhance processing efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

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Step-by-Step Guide: Activated Carbon Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing process of activated carbon involves several critical steps to ensure the final product possesses excellent adsorption performance and suitability.

1️. Raw Material Selection

wood coconut shell coal activated carbon production

The selection and pretreatment of raw materials for activated carbon production are crucial. Common raw materials include wood, coconut shell, coal, bamboo, among others. The following are the basic steps involved in raw material processing:

  1. Raw material collection and decontamination: After collection, raw materials usually undergo decontamination to remove impurities like soil, minerals, or other contaminants. This can be achieved through methods like screening, washing, or physical separation.
  2. Raw material drying: Thorough drying of raw materials is essential before processing to ensure there is no moisture content during carbonization and activation processes. This is typically accomplished using drying equipment or natural drying under suitable conditions.
  3. Raw material crushing and grinding: Raw materials may have uneven particle sizes, requiring crushing and grinding to obtain uniform particle sizes. This aids in enhancing the efficiency of carbonization and activation processes, ensuring the uniformity and stability of the final product.

2. Carbonization

Carbonization is a crucial step in the preparation of activated carbon. It converts the raw material into a carbonaceous structure, preparing it for the activation process. This phase eliminates residual moisture, impurities, and volatile substances from the raw materials, leaving behind solid carbon residue.

3. Activation

The activation process is essential for imparting excellent adsorption properties and abundant pore structures to activated carbon. This process can typically be achieved through two methods: steam activation and chemical activation.

Steam activation is a commonly used method, exposing carbonized material to high-temperature steam environments, causing gasification and exfoliation of the carbon surface, creating more micropores and mesoporous structures. Chemical activation involves using chemical activating agents (such as zinc chloride or phosphoric acid) on the surface of carbonized materials to increase their pore structures and surface area.

The selection of activation methods usually depends on the characteristics of the raw material and the intended application of the final product. Precise control during the activation process allows for the customization of activated carbons with different characteristics, catering to various industrial and application needs.

4. Washing and Drying

Activated carbon after activation needs to undergo washing to remove residual activating agents and impurities. Subsequently, it undergoes drying to eliminate residual moisture, ensuring the stability of the final product.

5. Chemical Treatment (Optional)

Chemical treatment processes are often employed for specific types of activated carbon or application requirements, such as impregnation, to impart specific performance or enhance specific functional uses.

Impregnated activated carbon involves exposing activated carbon to specific chemical solutions to achieve specific performance and application requirements. These solutions may include acids, bases, metals, or other additives, depending on the desired performance and application.

6. Quality Control

Quality control is a critical part of ensuring the final product meets specifications and quality standards. Throughout production, quality control is reflected at various stages, including:

  • Raw material inspection and selection
  • Control and monitoring of production process parameters
  • Regular sampling and testing at different stages
  • Performance testing of final products
  • Record-keeping of inspection results to ensure traceability of quality

Applications of Activated Carbon

Activated carbon finds widespread application across multiple fields due to its superior adsorption capabilities. Its ability to adsorb organic substances, odors, heavy metals, pollutants, and harmful substances makes it an indispensable material in environmental protection and industrial applications.

carbón activado granular usos

Here are several areas where activated carbon applications are most prominent:

Tratamiento del agua

Activated carbon is extensively used in water treatment, including purification of tap water, wastewater treatment, and purification of industrial process water. It effectively removes organic pollutants, chlorides, dyes, odors, and harmful chemicals like pesticides and heavy metals from water.

Purificación del aire

In air purification, activated carbon adsorbs harmful gases and odors from the air, such as sulfur dioxide, ammonia, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This makes it widely used in household and commercial air filters, kitchen range hoods, and vehicle interior air purification systems.

Industrial Emission Control

Activated carbon is employed in controlling industrial emissions, particularly in reducing the emission of pollutants from industrial smoke. It can effectively eliminate toxic gases, vaporized heavy metals (such as mercury), and other hazardous substances, helping industries comply with environmental regulations.

Petroleum and Natural Gas

In the petroleum and natural gas industries, activated carbon is used for decolorization, deodorization, and purification, such as removing impurities from oil during refining and eliminating mercury and other pollutants in natural gas purification.

Industria alimentaria

Activated carbon is used extensively in the food and beverage industry for impurity removal, decolorization, and deodorization, ensuring product purity and taste. For instance, it is used in the refining of sugar and edible oils and in removing undesirable flavors in alcoholic beverages.

Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industries

In the chemical industry and pharmaceutical production, activated carbon serves as a decolorizing and purifying agent to remove impurities from products. Additionally, in the pharmaceutical field, activated carbon is used in treating certain poisoning cases by adsorbing toxic substances to alleviate symptoms.

Apoyo a Catalyst

Due to its highly developed pore structure and surface area, activated carbon acts as a catalyst support, enhancing the dispersion and activity of catalysts. It is mainly applied in synthetic chemistry and environmental engineering fields.

Metal Extraction and Recovery

activated carbon for gold recovery

Activated carbon plays a vital role in metal extraction processes by adsorbing metal ions such as gold, copper, and silver from solutions, enabling metal recovery and purification.

Where to Buy Activated Carbon?

After discussing the extensive applications of activated carbon, understanding how to purchase this versatile material is equally crucial for different customers. Here are several purchasing avenues suitable for different customer needs:

For Individual or Household Users

Household users might require activated carbon products like replacement carbon for water filters or activated carbon filter sheets for air purifiers. These products often come in ready-to-use packaging with clear usage instructions and can be found in stores, large supermarkets, or online retailers.

For Commercial and Industrial Users

These customers might require large quantities or specific types of activated carbon. They can directly contact manufacturers or specialized industrial suppliers. These suppliers offer a broader range of product selections and can provide customized services based on specific customer needs.

Whether through online platforms or direct communication with suppliers, customers should ensure that the purchased activated carbon meets quality standards relevant to their application areas. For bulk purchases, requesting samples for testing is advisable to verify if the activated carbon’s performance aligns with specific application requirements. For bulk purchases, contact our experts: info@7chemtech.com

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