Types of Activated Carbon

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Activated carbon is used for many purposes including air filtration and gas separation, as well as in water treatment. Various activated carbon products are available in different shapes and sizes for a variety of applications.

Granular Activated Carbon (GAC): This is the most common type of carbon and is available in a range of sizes for vapor and liquid phase applications. It is characterized by its low pressure drop, high mechanical strength and relatively low dust content. It is usually available in granular form in sizes from 8×20 to 20×40 or extruded into cylindrical shaped blocks with diameters from 0.8 to 130 mm.

Powdered Activated Carbon (PAC): PAC is finer than GAC and can be used for a variety of applications including water treatment. Typically, PAC is added to a flow system or rapid mix basin as an adsorbent to remove organic compounds, chlorine and other contaminants.

PAC is usually sized from 0.2 micron to 0.5 micron, although there are commercial products with a larger mesh size for more severe filtration. Unlike GAC, PAC adsorbs both solid and liquid particles.

Iodine Number: Activated carbon with an iodine number of 600 to 1100 can be used for water-treatment applications. However, iodine number can be affected by other factors in the system. Iodine number should be viewed carefully and only used if an experimental correlation between iodine number and degree of exhaustion has been determined for the particular application.

Percent removal data can be a useful tool in describing how effective a given carbon is for removing certain organic compounds from water. Unfortunately, this data is often reported only as a percent removal value and does not describe how capacity varies with concentration. It also does not provide information on how adsorption is influenced by competitive effects.