What is activated carbon?

What is activated carbon?

Activated carbon is a component found all around us, but if you didn’t know it was there you could probably go your entire life blissfully unaware of its existence. It performs a key role in purifying liquids and gases, from drinking water to pollution control, and at AAC Eurovent we use activated carbon in our odour control and air filtration systems. But what exactly is activated carbon, how do we get it and where is it used? Here’s everything you need to know about activated carbon.

Activated carbon: whatis it used for?


Activated carbon is a form ofcarbon produced specifically for its high surface area (between 500 - 1500m2/g). In this case, the greater the surface area, the more opportunity thereis to adsorb potentially harmful chemicals and odours. Adsorption is a processwhere a solid is used for removing a soluble substance from the water. In thisprocess, active carbon is solid.

Pollutants and odours are oftenlooking to find a home for themselves on nearby surfaces, so by placing awelcoming installation of activated carbon near their source, we can cut downon these undesirable elements from impacting our lives.

Activated carbon helps to improve our quality of life as it can be used in a variety of applications,from water treatment and air purification to odour removal in manufacturing orfood processing.

How is activated carbon made?

To create activated carbon, we use a variety of carbon-rich materials such as coal,wood, coconuts, nut shells and peat. Once gathered, these materials are heatedto a high temperature, which causes a breakdown in their structure to create aporous structure or surface.

This new material is equippedwith a vast collection of pores, which is then placed where contaminants areproduced and used for the adsorption of pollutants and odours.

Where can you find activated carbon?

Activated carbon is extremelyeffective, and so it can be used in different scenarios and situations toimprove our air and water quality.

Here are just some of the waysactivated carbon contributes to our quality of life:

●     Water treatment –granular activated carbon (GAC) has been proven to remove certain chemicalsfrom water, in particular organic materials like hydrogen sulphide which cangive off the smell of rotten eggs.

●     Food processing –for example, activated carbon is commonly used in fruit juice productionbecause of its effectiveness in removing the naturally occurring contaminantpatulin in apple juice and apple-based products.

●     Air purification –we can also use activated carbon to remove industrial pollutants from the air,including volatile organic compounds (VOC), which are a core component of smog.Exposure to these VOC vapours risks various health concerns from eye, nose andthroat irritation to headaches, nausea and even damage to your liver, kidneysor central nervous system. Some VOCs are carcinogens, making it all the moreessential that air purification through activated carbon is in place.

It is important to note thatactivated carbon is safe to use, which is another reason why it is such auseful component of various industries. In small quantities it can be consumedwhile it is also not toxic to breathe, making it the ideal solution for airpurification and food processing purposes.

How is activated carbon used in odour control systems?

Activated carbon is a mediumthat is perfectly created for the process of adsorption. The activated carbonis typically placed in a filter bed, andthe air is forced to flow through the bed. As the air passes through, theodorous compounds are absorbed by the activated carbon.

Using adsorption materials forair purification is a more selective process than absorption, meaning it can beused to remove specific pollutants.

What is the difference between adsorption and absorption?

Adsorption is a surface process,while absorption is a bulk process. The difference here is that adsorptiontakes place at surface level while absorption takes place throughout thematerial.

This is particularly usefulbecause it means adsorption is a reversible process and the contaminants can beremoved from the surface, whereas absorption is not as easily reversible andcan be expensive or time-consuming to restore to a reusable condition.


Odour control with AAC Eurovent

If you are looking to eliminateodour or contaminants from your workplace,whether that’s for comfort or safety reasons, we are here to help. Contactus today to discuss with a friendlymember of our team how we can provide innovative carbon filter products and system solutions for your businessneeds.


Our dedicated team would love to hear from you – whether you want to ask us about our products, or discuss a bespoke need, feel free to get in touch.

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