Influence of preparation conditions on the characteristics of activated carbons produced in laboratory and pilot scale systems

Emad El-Qada, Stephen Allen, Gavin Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


The central theme of this investigation is to evaluate the feasibility of using bituminous coal as a precursor material for the production of chars and activated carbons using physical and chemical activation processes. The chemical activation process was accomplished by impregnating the raw materials with different dehydrating agents in different ratios and concentrations, prior to heat treatment (ZnCl2, KCl, KOH, NaOH and Fe2(SO4)3·xH2O). Steam activation of the precursor material was adopted for the preparation of activated carbon using physical activation technology. Different types of bituminous coal; namely, contaminated Columbian (contaminated with pet. coke), pure Columbian, Venezuelan and New Zealand bituminous coal were used in the production processes. BET surface area, micropore area, pore size distribution and total pore volume of the chars and activated carbons were determined from N2 adsorption/desorption isotherm, measured at 77 K. Charring conditions, charring temperature of 800 °C and charring time of 4 h, proved to be the optimum conditions for preparing chars. Contaminated Columbian were found to be the best precursor material for the production of char with reasonable physical characteristics (surface area = 138.1 m2 g-1 and total pore volume of 8.656 × 10-0.2 cm3 g-1). An improvement in the physical characteristics of the activated carbons was obtained upon the treatment of coal with dehydrating agents. Contaminated Columbian treated with 10 wt% ZnCl2 displayed the highest surface area and total pore volume (surface area = 231.5 m2 g-1 and total pore volume = 0.1227 cm3 g-1) with well-developed microporisity (micropore area = 92.3 m2 g-1). Venezuelan bituminous coal using the steam activation process was successful in producing activated carbon with superior physical characteristics (surface area = 863.50 m2 g-1, total pore volume = 0.469 cm3 g-1 and micropore surface area = 783.58 m2 g-1).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Environmental Engineering


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