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Activated Carbon Adsorption

Activated Carbon Adsorbers
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What is Activated Carbon?

Activated carbon is a porous material that removes organic compounds from liquids and gases in a process known as “Adsorption.” The extremely high surface area of activated carbon gives it the attractive, adsorptive properties to remove volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) from vapor or liquid streams. Activated carbon is produced by thermally decomposing organic or carbonaceous source materials – such as wood, coal, or coconut shells – in a controlled environment. The finished product has an extremely high surface area and can be processed further into specific shapes or mesh sizes (e.g. pellets or granules at a 12 mesh size). Activated carbon can also be impregnated with additional adsorbates to enhance the adsorption of specific VOCs and organic compounds.

How does Activated Carbon Work?

Table of Suitable Compounds Activated carbon utilizes its extremely high surface area to remove contaminants in the process of physical adsorption. At the submicroscopic level, the surface of the carbon pores exerts attractive forces. For certain VOCs, the attractive force of the carbon surface is stronger than the attractive forces keeping them dissolved in the liquid solution or vapor stream. For these compounds, the VOC molecule adheres or sticks or “adsorbs” to the surface of the carbon, thereby removing them from the treated effluent stream. Compounds that are ideal for activated carbon adsorption tend to be organic and non-polar and have high molecular weights and boiling points.

What are Adsorbers?

Activated Carbon Adsorbers Pressure Flow Chart Adsorbers are vessels or modules that contain activated carbon for the purpose of removing contaminants from a process stream. Activated carbon adsorbers are effective in industrial applications, such as vapor emission control and odor removal. Within the adsorber, the waste stream is injected into the vessel with an excellent flow distribution and a minimized pressure drop. Wihtin the carbon bed, VOCs, such as benzene or trichloroethylene, are capured and adsorbed into the pores of the activated carbon. Finally, the treated effluent stream exits the adsorber, achieving environmental compliance and reduced emissions. PCC’s Carbon Adsorption Process (PCC-CAP™) Adsorbers are of a modular design and can handle a range of vapor flows from 20 to 20,000 cfm. Larger flows have been treated by using adsorbers in parallel. All of these adsorbers have been designed to have low pressure drop, excellent flow distribution, and resistance to corrosive compounds. Customized ASME Code designs are available.

What are Suitable Applications for Carbon Adsorption?

Activated Carbon Adsorption can be used for a wide variety of vapor phase applications in emission control, industrial odor control, Thermal Oxidizer back-up, and other various markets. They are ideal in Pharmaceutical Facilities, Specialty Chemical Manufacturing, Crude and Natural Gas Refineries, Paint & Coating Manufacturers, and Plastic Resin & Synthetic Fiber manufacturing. PCC offers a wide range ofo activated carbon adsorption equipment and systems for use with: air stripper off-gas, storage tank emissions, railcar or barge loading tank vents, reactor vents and continuous industrial waste streams.

What additional services are offered?

Carbon Exchange Service
Activated carbon achieves high removal efficiencies for a large number of VOCs until it has reached its usable lifespan and breakthrough occurs. During breakthrough, the activated carbon can no longer adsorb organics, and the spent carbon must be removed and replenished with fresh carbon.

Once the carbon’s adsorption capacity has been reached, the spent carbon must be removed from the adsorber and re-filled with fresh carbon. The spent carbon can either be disposed of or reactivated. Reactivation allows for recycling and reuse of the spent carbon. PCC can assist in the disposal, reactivation and recycling of the spent carbon.

Rental Equipment
Adsorbers may be rented for during the maintenance of thermal oxidizers. This allows manufacturing plants to keep running when shutdown would have been otherwise required. If rental units are needed, please contact PCC. Please include the compounds and concentrations of the waste stream and date at which the rental is required.


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