How to Make Activated Charcoal
Activated carbon is one of the most useful substances in the world. It is used in various applications in different fields. This is why more and more companies are starting to learn how to make activated charcoal.
The process of producing activated carbon starts by creating carbon itself. It can be made from various source materials such as peat, lignite, petroleum pitch, coir, wood, nutshells and others. Once carbon or charcoal is produced, a manufacturer must choose which particular type of process to undertake in order to make activated charcoal.
There are two different types of processes – chemical activation and physical reactivation.
In chemical activation, the raw material is impregnated with a particular mix of chemicals before carbonization. Typically, the chemicals used may be a strong base, acid, salt in the form of phosphoric acid, potassium hydroxide, zinc chloride or sodium hydroxide. Once the raw material is finally made to go under the process of carbonization, it is set at temperatures around 450–900 degrees Celsius. Experts claim that the activation/carbonization process actually goes simultaneously with the chemical activation. Most manufacturers prefer to use this process to make activated charcoal since it only requires lower temperatures and shorter time in order to activate any raw material.
On the other hand, there are also manufacturers who prefer to use the process of physical reactivation for certain reasons. The precursor is transformed into activated cola with the use of gases. The entire process is done by employing either one or a combination of carbonization and activation processes. In the process of carbonization, the material with carbon content is pyrolyzed in temperatures ranging from 600–900 degrees Celsius. The process takes place without oxygen, so it is often conducted in an inert atmosphere where gasses like nitrogen and argon are present.
As for the process of activation/oxidation, the raw/carbonized material is made to go under a process where it is exposed to oxidizing atmospheres, such as steam, oxygen and carbon monoxide. This process is done at temperatures above 250 degrees Celsius.
After the process is done, the activated carbon can then be used in several applications. In addition to its medical benefits, it can be used for the purification of gold, water and different gases as well as the extraction of metal. Due to its adsorptive properties, activated carbon can be used for sewage treatment. One of its major industrial applications aside from water and gas filtration is in the metal finishing field.
Clearly, activated carbon is a useful substance and the best thing about it is that it’s highly economical and quite easy to prepare. However, just like most other substances, activated carbon has its own breakpoint. When it reaches this point, it loses its adsorptive ability. This is one of the things manufacturers also need to worry about aside from the activation process.