Activated carbon is an effective purifier. It is used to remove organic pollutants from different gaseous, liquid and solid substances. By removing the undesirable organic compounds, activated carbon can successfully remove the odour and taste of these compounds from a wide range of things.
Unlike other purification agents that react with organic compounds and change their nature, activated carbon only absorbs the pollutants instead of reacting with them. The good thing about this system is that the activated carbon material used for purification can be cleaned and reused a certain number of times. This material is called 'Activated' carbon because the ions present in it carry negative charge. As a result, they attract and trap positively charged particles. Due to its multifarious benefits, it finds effective use in a number of industries.
If the water you use tastes or smells funny, it is sure to be infected with organic compounds. Consuming such water can cause life threatening diseases. One of the best ways to purify it is to use activated carbon, in fact, water purification is one of the primary uses of activated carbon. It is used in water filters and filter beds to remove organic particles. Activated carbon is extremely porous and traps even the smallest particles.
Besides purifying potable water, activated carbon is also used to purify water in sewage treatment plants, chemical manufacturing units, food processing units, waste transfer centres and many more industries where water needs to be treated before being released as an effluent.
Activated carbon is a good remedy against poisoning caused due to overdoses or consumption of toxic elements. Oral ingestions used to treat poisoning consist of capsules containing activated carbon. They are also used to treat indigestion, diarrhoea, flatulence and certain respiratory problems.
Although activated carbon is a good medicinal remedy for several health problems, it cannot be used when poisoning is caused to strong alkaline or acidic materials such as lithium, cyanide, iron, ethanol, methanol, arsenic and ethylene glycol. So, medicines containing this material should be strictly taken on doctor's prescription. Incorrect use of activated carbon can cause dire consequences including loss of life.
Air and gas purification
Air and gas purification systems have filters that contain activated carbon. The presence of this material removes a wide range of hydrocarbons, odour causing particles and oil vapours. It is also used in the primary life support systems used in spacesuits.
In addition to purifying air, activated carbon is also used to preserve radioactive gases in the air that is vacuumed out of the boiling water reactor turbine condenser in nuclear plants. This way, it prevents the loss or spread of radioactive substances by trapping them in the charcoal particles. Only the air passes out of the reactor.
In addition to the above three industries, activated charcoal is used in cosmetic industry, agriculture and animal husbandry, alcohol manufacturing and purification, fuel storage, environmental applications, dental health industry, cleaning products industry and many more. The versatility of activated carbon makes it one of the most widely used products across all industries.