Known as a powerful purifier for drinking water since ancient India, activated carbon is used today to purify water at the home, municipal, and industrial levels. It can remove both toxic and noxious compounds that affect safety, taste, and even aesthetics. Here’s how activated carbon water filtration works.
What Is Activated Carbon?
Activated carbon is a highly porous material with a tremendous ability to attract and remove a wide range of organic compounds as well as some inorganic compounds. It begins life as organic matter with a high natural carbon concentration, such as coal, wood, peat, or coconut husk. The matter is slowly heated in a low-oxygen environment, drawing out water and impurities without burning. The resulting material, known as char, then undergoes a variety of physical and chemical processes to dramatically increase its surface area and create a submicroscopic network of pores.
Activated carbon works through the process of adsorption, attracting the targeted compounds along its vast surface area. The porous network ensures that the compounds are efficiently transported to the internal surface area for adsorption to occur. Process Water and Waste Water
Process water is used for industrial processing, and waste water is leftover after the processing work is completed. Some process water is designed for consumption, such as water added to beverages, while other process water is discarded or recycled, such as wash water.
Waste water runs the gamut from washing machine runoff to extremely contaminated industrial water. All states and local areas have legal standards for purifying waste water before releasing it into lakes or rivers.
Both process water and waste water can contain innumerable contaminants. Process water that will be consumed must meet different treatment standards than that which will be discarded. Activated carbon filtration systems are available in a variety of different types, particle sizes, and chemical impregnations to meet different water filtration needs. Municipal Drinking Water
Most drinking water is taken from renewable freshwater sources including rivers, lakes, and aquifers. However, pollution and contamination mean that the water from these sources must be carefully filtered and processed to become safe for human consumption. Large municipal filtration systems use activated carbon, often in tandem with a secondary purification method, to ensure that drinking water is safe. In developing countries, where heavy and expensive filtration systems are not practical, small and relatively inexpensive mobile filtration units can save lives. Point of Entry and Point of Use Filters
Although modern municipal water supplies are generally safe, they often have an off taste, color, and/or smell. Homeowners and commercial businesses often add a point of entry activated carbon water filter, which connects to the main water line, or attach a point of use filter to a specific faucet. Backpackers and hikers who rely on natural freshwater sources can also purchase individual activated carbon water filtration systems to ensure their safety on the trail. Aquarium Filters
Although they are not effective against certain contaminants such as nitrates and ammonia, activated carbon aquarium filters can remove such toxins as tannins and phenols. Many aquarium owners use multi-stage filtration that includes activated carbon for a full-scale approach to keeping their fish safe and healthy. Ready to Get Started?
If you need activated carbon, along with expert guidance on exactly which product to choose and how to use it effectively, please contact Oxbow Activated Carbon today to learn how we can help.