What is Activated Carbon?

CrossAfrica Water Solutions utilises activated carbon in its filters to aid the water purification process, either within our Cleansui hollow-fibre filter cartridges or in separate Active Carbon filters, which are used in collaboration with our existing commercial and point-of-entry micro-filtration products.

Activated carbon is one of the more popular ways to effectively remove chlorine, particles such as sediment, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), taste and odour from water.

Activated carbon is a natural material, rich in carbon, whereby the pores of the charred material have been opened, increasing the carbon’s surface area through a steam or chemical activation process. The common carbon-rich sources used for the manufacturing of activated carbon are coal, wood and coconut shells. Activated carbon is characterised by its high porosity and adsorptive capabilities. Through adsorption, activated carbon can effectively remove a range of contaminants and impurities from liquid and air streams.

How does it work?

Activated Carbon is utilised for its adsorption capabilities. Adsorption is defined as the attraction or adhesion of atoms, ions or molecules to a surface. Through weak Van der Waal forces, molecules are attracted to the surface area of the porous activated carbon, and captured. The pore sizes present in the activated carbon must be larger than the contaminants that have to be removed from the solution, and hence, this a determining factor in selecting the correct activated carbon for the intended application.

Where it is used

Well, where isn’t it used? From air and water purification, to health and beauty, all the way through to mineral extraction and colour removal, activated carbon has a very wide range of applications. The adsorptive capabilities of activated carbon make it useful in hundreds of applications for several different industries.

By the time you’ve finished breakfast and are ready to head out, you’ve taken part in the consumption of activated carbon several times, without ever seeing it. Some of the chemicals in your shampoo and toothpaste were probably purified with activated carbon during fabrication. Similarly, the water used in your morning cup of tea or coffee would have been treated with activated carbon through a filter system to remove various taste, odour and harmful contaminants, and that bright white sweetener you add to your coffee for a morning boost would have been de-coloured with the help of activated carbon.

Activated carbon and its strong adsorptive bonding abilities make it one of the most useful materials to mankind. We hardly ever see it, but it continues to play a pivotal role in purification on a range of different levels.