Activated Carbon/Charcoal



Activated carbon commonly referred to as activated charcoal is a a highly porous material used to remove pollutants from contaminated liquid and gas streams. Activated carbon is derived from a variety of raw materials such as coconut, wood, coal (bituminous, anthracite, sub-bituminous, and lignite), peat, and bamboo. Each raw material has unique properties which effect the resulting pore structure, carbon content, and ash content, which are important characteristics when removing a contaminant of concern. The material is used in remediation, medical, and industrial applications where adsorption is required. Activated carbon has strong physical adsorption properties known as London Dispersion Forces which is a Van der Waals Force. The attraction between the activated carbon and the pollutant are highly dependent on the vapour pressure of the adsorbing molecules. Activated carbon is often altered or impregnated by chemicals to enhance the surface area of the carbon. When the carbon is chemically altered the bonds are much stronger than London Dispersion Forces. Chemicals often impregnated on activated carbon include potassium hydroxide, phosphoric acid, or sulfur. With the addition of chemicals the activated carbon will have an affinity for select compounds such acidic or basic pollutants.

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