Activated charcoal is a substance that demonstrates excellent adsorption properties. It is an odorless adsorbent that is used in a myriad of applications ranging from industrial purification to treating flatulence and indigestion. This particular adsorbent has a very large internal surface are owing to a finely intricate network of pores. Gases or chemicals get trapped in the elaborate network, and this process is known as adsorption. Owing to this quality, it can be used for treating industrial waste, removing moisture or other vapors from the environment, removing odor, and for purifying liquids of different types.
Industrial and commercial applications
This substance is also known as activated carbon. Some of the most common applications of this substance include purification of water and air. It could be made from different types of organic materials such as wood, coconut shells, coal and so on. This adsorbent is available in several different forms such as powder, granules, sheets, and pellets.
Here are some common industrial applications in which activated charcoal is used:
- Air and water purification: This adsorbent can effectively get rid of pollutants from air as well as water. It is used for purification of groundwater, as well as drinking water. A number of commercial and industrial water purification applications make use of this adsorbent.
- Purification of gases: Since this substance can effectively remove different types of gases and vapors from the air, it is used for purifying compressed gases and air. It effectively removes oil vapors and a variety of odors from a given environment. Particles of activated charcoal are embedded in the fiber or filter media that are used in manufacturing gas masks.
- Food and beverage industry: The food and beverage industry relies on this adsorbent for purifying and clarifying various alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. It is also used for controlling moisture levels and odor in various food products. It is a non-toxic substance hence it does not pose any health hazard even if accidentally ingested.
Re-generating the adsorbent
It is possible to make use of activated carbon to the optimum level as it can be re-generated. Re-generation refers to a process wherein the adsorbent is exposed to high temperature to free it of the adsorbed contaminants. At the end of the re-generation process, the adsorbent is ready for re-use. This makes the substance very cost-effective as it can be used several times before it is finally disposed of. There are a number of ways in which this substance can be re-generated. These include thermal treatment, microbial regeneration, wet air oxidation, electrochemical regeneration etc.
The amount of activated charcoal that you would need to use depends on the desired level of adsorption, the total volume of the container, the type of material to be purified and a few other factors.