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Available with us is a wide range of activated carbon that is a form of carbon and is processed to make it extremely porous and thus to have a very large surface area available for adsorption or chemical reactions.
Production of Activated carbon:
Activated carbon is carbon produced from carbonaceous source materials such as bamboo, coconut husk, willow peat, wood, coir, lignite, coal, and petroleum pitch. It can be produced by one of the following processes:
The source material is developed into activated carbons using hot gases. Air is then introduced to burn out the gasses, creating a graded, screened and de-dusted form of activated carbon. This is generally done by using one or a combination of the following processes:
Carbonization: Material with carbon content is pyrolyzed at temperatures in the range 600–900 °C, usually in inert atmosphere with gases like argon or nitrogen
Activation/Oxidation: Raw material or carbonized material is exposed to oxidizing atmospheres (oxygen or steam) at temperatures above 250 °C, usually in the temperature range of 600–1200 °C.
Prior to carbonization, the raw material is impregnated with certain chemicals. The chemical is typically an acid, strong base, or a salt(phosphoric acid, potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, calcium chloride, and zinc chloride 25%).
The raw material is carbonized at lower temperatures (450–900 °C).
It is believed that the carbonization / activation step proceeds simultaneously with the chemical activation.
Chemical activation is preferred over physical activation owing to the lower temperatures and shorter time needed for activating material.
Activated carbon is used in air 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. Tablets or capsules of activated carbon are used in many countries as an over-the-counter drug to treat diarrhoea, indigestion, and flatulence.
However, it is ineffective for a number of poisonings including strong acids or alkali, cyanide, 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.
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.