Activated Carbon

Definition - What does Activated Carbon mean?

This is any organic material that is rich in carbon and has been thermally decomposed under controlled atmospheric conditions and heat to achieve the following physical characteristics:

  • Large internal surface area per unit volume
  • A network of submicroscopic pores
  • Desired molecular size (powdered, granular, or extruded)

It is mostly used in filters, which are attached in machines that provide air and water purification. Basically, the presence of pores assists in the absorption and filtering of fluids.

Corrosionpedia explains Activated Carbon

The activated carbon acts as a sieve and a magnet in the purification mechanism. The pores act as filters for contaminants. Bituminous coal, the source, is first crushed into small sizes depending on the type; binders are later used to give it a hardness based on the size. After sizing, the carbon-rich raw material is placed in bakers under a low temperature, and eventually placed in a high-temperature furnace.

The adhesive forces inside the carbon are high; hence the contaminants will remain trapped inside. Chemical reactions between carbon and contaminants usually occur, so it does a physical and chemical filtering all together. Its efficiency in filtering is in terms of microns (the size of the particles absorbed). It is a good material to use in fluid purification to prevent the contaminants from acting as corrosion agents.

Active carbon is used in water and air purification, effluent treatment, and di-chlorination to remove:

  • Organic and inorganic compounds
  • Halogens
  • Non-polar substances
  • Allergens (pollen grains, dust mites, odor, dust, and suspended pollutants)
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