Carbon Adsorption

Solvents, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other contaminants in the liquids or gas phase can be adsorbed onto activated carbon.


Carbon Adsorption
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The principle of adsorption is based on the highly porous structure of the granular carbon. Each gramme of activated carbon may typically have a total surface area, including all its internal pore structure, in excess of 1000m².

The Adsorption Process

Contaminants are removed from the gas or liquid stream by the process of physical adsorption. Contaminant removal efficiencies are dependent on the nature of the contaminant, the carbon type, initial levels of contamination and gas flow rates.

When a carbon bed is saturated with the contaminant the material would normally be removed and exchanged for new material and the exhausted carbon would either be disposed of or reactivated by the carbon supplier.

In certain applications in-situ regeneration can be undertaken a number of times by flooding the carbon bed with a chemical reagent. The carbon will, however, eventually become ‘poisoned’ by contaminants and need replacement.

With large flows, carbon adsorption alone may prove uneconomical. A useful procedure is to combine the economy of wet scrubbing or stripping with a subsequent ‘polish’ with activated carbon. The packed tower will remove the bulk of the contaminant while the final fraction (plus stray components not scrubbed or stripped) can then be adsorbed without prematurely exhausting the rather costly carbon bed.

Key Information

  • Very efficient and excellent odour removal
  • Carbon needs to be replaced regularly
  • Often combined with other scrubbing or stripping systems as ‘final polish’


N.B. The information contained in this entry is provided by the above supplier, and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher