Activated carbon is often referred to as activated charcoal, but it has differences from ordinary charcoal that we often encounter around us. Activated carbon has a larger surface area than charcoal. In addition, in terms of price, they are very different. In industrial development, the need for activated charcoal is increasing. From this product there are many benefits that can be applied to various fields. Indeed, what are the benefits of activated carbon? How is the manufacturing process?

activated carbon

Is Activated Carbon the Same as Charcoal?

Activated carbon is often referred to as activated carbon/activated charcoal, which has a very large surface area. However, activated charcoal is different from ordinary charcoal. Activated charcoal has pores and a large surface area compared to ordinary charcoal, because it is produced from a high temperature combustion process and soaked with certain chemical solutions such as HCl. Usefulness is also different, we often encounter ordinary charcoal for burning satay or barbecue, while activated charcoal or activated carbon is used for various industrial processes such as water filtration, deodorizing, and others.

Activated carbon is widely used in various fields. In general, activated carbon is widely used in various fields, such as industry, health, environment, and agriculture.

1. Industrial Sector The use of activated carbon in industry is commonly used as a solution purifier (sugar industry, alcoholic beverages, chemicals and pharmaceuticals), absorbent of toxic gases, deodorizing, absorbent of fuel vapor emissions in automotive, and as a cigarette filter. The content of activated charcoal can also be found as an added ingredient in everyday products that we use to clean and smooth the skin such as shampoos, soaps and body scrubs.

2. Health Sector, activated charcoal is used to treat external poisoning and secretory diarrhea therapy. If poisoning occurs orally, steps can be taken by administering adsorbents such as activated charcoal. Reporting from the halodoc.com page, activated charcoal can treat health problems such as kidney disorders, gas in the digestive tract, diarrhea, mouth and tooth problems, and skin infections.

3. Environmental Sector Activated carbon has adsorbent properties on Pb, Hg, Cu, Ni, Cd metals in liquid waste, copper plating and nickel plating.  Activated charcoal is able to remove metal content which is affected by pH and carbon concentration. In addition, activated charcoal plays an important role in the process of purifying water and air and remove the odor, color, taste contained in the solution. In several countries, activated carbon is widely used as an absorbent for pesticide residues in the water purification process to obtain drinking water that is fit for consumption Activated charcoal can absorb toxic gases in the paint and adhesive industry.

4. Agriculture Sector The practice of using activated charcoal can increase the height growth of Eucalyptus urophylla saplings, even better than the control, but the growth will be better if added with compost.

Carbon activation is a process to increase pore volume, enlarge pore diameter, and increase the porosity of activated carbon. This process can use three methods including physics, chemistry, as well as physics and chemistry.

The activation process by chemical means is soaked with a chemical compound before being heated. Charcoal is soaked in certain solutions (H3PO4, NH4Cl, AlCl3, HNO3, KOH, NaOH, KMnO4, SO3, H2SO4 and K2S) for 24 hours, then drained, and heated at 600-900oC for 1 to 2 hours. Charcoal activation by ordinary physical methods uses weak oxidizing agents such as water vapor, CO2, N2, O2, and other oxidizing gases.

This process begins by flowing light gases into a retort containing charcoal and heating it to a temperature of 800-1000 oC. At temperatures below 900 oC the activation process with water vapor will take place very slowly, whereas at temperatures over 1000 oC it causes damage to the hexagonal lattice structure of the charcoal (Manocha 2003).