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Activated Carbon Industrial Applications Review: Activated carbon, also called activated charcoal, activated coal, or carbo activatus, is a form of carbon processed to have small, low-volume pores that increase the surface area available for adsorption or chemical reactions. Activated is sometimes substituted with active.
Due to its high degree of microporosity, just one gram of activated carbon has a surface area in excess of 500 m2, as determined by gas adsorption. An activation level sufficient for useful application may be attained solely from high surface area; however, further chemical treatment often enhances adsorption properties.
Activated carbon is usually derived from charcoal and increasingly, high-porosity biochar. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medications needed in a basic health system.
The produced activated carbon has an incredible amount of surface area per unit volume. Effectively, the activated carbon has a tremendous number of microscopic pores, which is where the absorption occurs. The absorption performance of activated carbon is determined by the amount of nitrogen absorption within a controlled environment.
The adsorption qualities of activated carbon is given by the porous nature of the activated carbon. For example, contaminants from water, tend to collect in the microscopic cavities because of the molecular attractive forces of carbon with many contaminants.
Typical applications for activated carbon include, metal extraction, water purification, medicine, wastewater purification, filters , filter masks, and hydrocarbon absorption.
Activated carbon may be used to treat oral ingestion of poisonings as, well as overdoses. The activated carbon is administered in a known amount and prevents or reduces absorption of the poison by the stomach.
Activated carbon is used in gas purification, decaffeination, gold purification, metal extraction, water purification, medicine, sewage treatment, air filters in gas masks and respirators, filters in compressed air and many other applications.
One major industrial application involves use of activated carbon in the metal finishing field. It is very widely employed for purification of electroplating solutions. For example, it is a main purification technique for removing organic impurities from bright nickel plating solutions. A variety of organic chemicals are added to plating solutions for improving their deposit qualities and for enhancing properties like brightness, smoothness, ductility, etc. Due to passage of direct current and electrolytic reactions of anodic oxidation and cathodic reduction, organic additives generate unwanted breakdown products in solution. Their excessive build up can adversely affect the plating quality and physical properties of deposited metal. Activated carbon treatment removes such impurities and restores plating performance to the desired level.
Activated carbon is used to treat poisonings and overdoses following oral ingestion. It is not effective for a number of poisonings including with: strong acids or alkali, iron, lithium, arsenic, methanol, ethanol or ethylene glycol.
Incorrect application (e.g. into the lungs) results in pulmonary aspiration which can sometimes be fatal if immediate medical treatment is not initiated. The use of activated carbon is contraindicated when the ingested substance is an acid, an alkali, or a petroleum product.
Analytical chemistry applications
Activated carbon, in 50% w/w combination with celite, is used as stationary phase in low-pressure chromatographic separation of carbohydrates (mono-, di-trisaccharides) using ethanol solutions (5–50%) as mobile phase in analytical or preparative protocols.
Filters with activated carbon are usually used in compressed air and gas purification to remove oil vapours, odour, and other hydrocarbons from the air. The most common designs use a 1 stage or 2 stage filtration principle in which activated carbon is embedded inside the filter media. Activated carbon is also used in spacesuit Primary Life Support Systems. Activated carbon filters are used to retain radioactive gases from a nuclear boiling water reactor turbine condenser. The air vacuumed from the condenser contains traces of radioactive gases. The large charcoal beds absorb these gases and retain them while they rapidly decay to non-radioactive solid species. The solids are trapped in the charcoal particles, while the filtered air passes through.
Activated carbon is commonly used on the laboratory scale to purify solutions of organic molecules containing unwanted colored organic impurities.
Activated carbon can filter air and water. Sound energy is found within air and water and activated carbon can be used to absorb that energy. With its high degree of porosity in each activated carbon granule, sound energy has numerous areas to enter into and be converted to heat. With the energy change to heat, the process of sound absorption occurs.
Activated carbon in its granule form can be used to absorb middle and high frequency ranges provided the absorbers design lets air pass through the carbon. Activated carbon can also be used inside of diaphragmatic absorption technology to increase the rate of absorption within the diaphragmatic absorber.
Distilled alcoholic beverage purification
See also: Lincoln County Process
Activated carbon filters can be used to filter vodka and whiskey of organic impurities which can affect color, taste, and odor. Passing an organically impure vodka through an activated carbon filter at the proper flow rate will result in vodka with an identical alcohol content and significantly increased organic purity, as judged by odor and taste.
Activated carbon, often impregnated with sulfur or iodine, is widely used to trap mercury emissions from coal-fired power stations, medical incinerators, and from natural gas at the wellhead.