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What is Activated Carbon & What Applications are there?

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What is Activated Carbon?

Activated carbon is made from Carbon, highly porous adsorptive medium that has a complex structure giving it a very high surface area. This complex structure is formed by “activating” the carbon chips (coconut shell, peat, hard and soft wood, lignite coal, bituminous coal, olive pits and various carbonaceous specialty materials), this process is done by heating the carbon material in a vacuum oven, where heat of 1,800 degrees ‘cooks’ the carbon which forms little pores and pockets which greatly increases its surface area.

What is Adsorption?

Adsorption is the description of the process which the adsorbent – Activated Carbon, attracts and attaches or sticks atoms/ions/molecues to its surface from a gaseous/liquid solution medium. Due to the high surface area and porosity of activated carbon, that is the reason why activated carbon is so favoured when filtering water or air is required.

What are some contaminants that Activated Carbon removes?

  • Chlorine
    • Chlorine is added into the water pipelines to help control bacteria growth and is a useful chemical, however we wouldn’t want to consume it unnecessarily. Using an Activated Carbon filter, you are able to reduce the chlorine in the water
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
    • Volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs, are organic chemicals that become dangerous at certain temperature levels. These compounds are not only dangerous to human health, but also to the environment, as the dissipated chemicals can rise into the atmosphere and cause acid rain. Formaldehyde is an example of a VOC that can cause serious health risk to any human who consumes it. The United States Geological Society discusses VOCs in greater detail below:
      USGS: Volatile Organic Compounds in the Nation’s Drinking-Water (PDF) – The USGS discusses the findings of its study surrounding the dangers of VOCs in drinking water.
  • Trihalomethanes
    • Trihalomethanes are a by-product of the chlorination process of purifying water. While chlorine has done a lot of good in terms of saving people from illnesses as extreme as typhoid fever, the resulting trihalomethanes actually consist of four dangerous chemicals: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dribromochloromethane, and bromoform. These are formed when the chlorine in the water reacts with any organic compounds that have found the way into the water pipeline. These nasty chemicals are closely regulated by the EPA, because they can cause bladder and colon cancer.  See what Oklahoma State has to say about trihalomethanes:
      State of Oklahoma: Trihalomethanes Fact Sheet (PDF) – Chlorination is good, but trihalomethanes are bad. Read what the State of Oklahoma has to say about these dangerous chemicals
  • Lead
    • Lead is poisonous, no matter what.Lead in drinking water is dangerous, and can cause severe illness including severe brain, nervous system, and kidney damage. Unless you are using a lead removal filter which we have.

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