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5653Re: [Distillers] Activated Carbon

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  • Mike Nixon
    Aug 5, 2002
      smudge311065   wrote:
      TSubject: [Distillers] Activated Carbon

      Hello all,

      I don't want to go on about this..... but I will.

      The "activated" in activated carbon refers to chemical ativity. It is
      true that activated carbon is filled with small holes, but it does
      not act in the same way as a sieve.

      It reaches the end of it's useful life when it all of its reactive
      molecules have bonded with impurities. If the pores become clogged
      with sediment, potentially reactive carbon will become inaccessible.
      In this case, washing activated carbon may extend its life if it
      unclogs the pores, but this is more relevant if you are using
      activated carbon to clarify pondwater, and not alcohol.

      If the output of you still contains sediment then you would be better
      off redistilling it, and not filtering it.

      Assuming your carbon is not clogged with sediment, then when it stops
      working its because all its molecules have done their job. The
      impurities attached to the carbon need to be removed by a chemical
      process before it can be used again.

      Rinse it all you like, but all you'll get is nice, clean, non-
      activated carbon.

      I'm sorry, Smudge, but you are wrong.  Adsorption is primarily an electrostatic phenomenon and chemical bonds play no part in it. The porous nature of the carbon is induced in order to increase the surface area available, a typical value often quoted (and true) is approximately one football field area per cubic centimeter of carbon.  This process of inducing porosity is what is meant by the term "activation".  Geometry also plays a part in this, enhancing the weak electrostatic attraction for certain sizes and shapes of molecules in a manner similar to that used by enzymes which have shaped "pockets".  In this manner, materials can be processed to selectively adsorb some molecules better than others, as in respirators.  Carbon that has not been treated in this way will still adsorb molecules but, for practical purposes, the effect will be insignificant if the surface area has not been increased.  Adsorbed molecules held on the surfaces both inside and outside of the carbon may be released by heat and subsequent vaporisation.  Please do not confuse rinsing new carbon to get rid of salts etc before initial use with heating after use to release adsorbed molecules. 
      Mike Nixon
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