activated carbon

Activated Carbon

Activated carbon and its porous characteristics act as a filter for gases and liquids. Over years of utilizing the material's absorption capabilities, humans have discovered just how useful this substance is for food, drink, and even our bodies. Before understanding the true benefits of activated carbon, it's important to grasp what the material is and where it comes from.

What Is Activated Carbon

Charcoal material carries a large surface area per unit volume. The substance is extremely absorptive, and it is created from carbonaceous source materials. These materials include coal, nutshells, coconuts, peat, wood, and lignite.

A carbon source material undergoes an intense heating process and transforms into an activated carbon. Typically put into a heating furnace, the carbonaceous source materials undergo physical modification and thermal decomposition. The extreme temperatures and controlled environment of the furnace creates an end product with an immense surface area per unit volume and submicroscopic pores that act like super sponges.

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Characteristics of an Activated Carbon

Activated carbon features extremely small pores that are measured in Angstroms. There are micropore, mesopore, and macropore regions of the activated carbon, and each section has a volume that differs from the next. Depending on what's being absorbed, liquids and gases interact with the various regions of the activated carbon. As a prime example, gases are usually absorbed in the micropore region, for these pores are the smallest variety and are more effective in trapping such a state of matter.

Activated Carbon Uses

Activated carbon is mostly used in the purification process for liquids and gases. The material helps to make drinking water safe for human consumption, but it also shows value in the food and beverage industry, odor removal, and pollution control methods. Activated carbon acts as a filter for disinfection processes. The substance actively filters the following from liquids and gases:

  • Dyes from water solutions
  • Organic wastes in seawater
  • Mineral oil
  • Phenol
  • Odors
  • Yeasts


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