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Activated carbon is utilized by a number of industries for its purification properties.

Air Purification

Activated carbon is used to control potentially harmful, environmentally damaging or unpleasant odors in a number of environments, including homes, manufacturing facilities and in operating rooms. An air purifier is a device which removes contaminants from the air. These devices are commonly marketed as being beneficial to allergy sufferers and asthmatics, and at reducing or eliminating second-hand tobacco smoke. Commercial grade air purifiers are manufactured as either small stand-alone units or larger units that can be affixed to an air handler unit (AHU) or to an HVAC Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning unit found in the medical, industrial, and commercial industries. Air purifiers may also be used in industry to remove impurities such as CO2 from air before processing. Pressure swing absorbers or other adsorption techniques are typically used for this.

Air purifiers are becoming increasingly capable of capturing a greater number of bacterial, virus, and DNA damaging particulates. Air purifiers are used to reduce the concentration of these airborne contaminants and can be useful for people who suffer from allergies and asthma.

Food & Beverage

The Food & Beverage industry uses activation as part of various processes, such as the decolorization of sugar, purify organic compounds, chlorine removal, decaffeination and many other practices. Consumers expect their beverages to look good, smell good and taste good. This is the basis of beverage quality, the major determining factor for beverage sales. Activated carbon is an agent for keeping things clean such as removing unwanted contaminants from fruit juices, juice concentrates, wine, malt beverages, and distilled liquor. Dedicated products ensure that essential ingredients such as water, CO2 and sugar are purified to fulfill the most stringent quality criteria. Activated carbon can be used for everything from the removal of bad tastes and odors to the provision of long term color stability to the removal of disinfectants and their degradation products from water.


It is the act of removing caffeine from coffee beans, cocoa, tea leaves and other caffeine-containing materials. (While caffeine-free soft drinks are occasionally referred to as “decaffeinated”, some are better termed “uncaffeinated”: prepared without adding caffeine during production.) Despite removal of most caffeine, many decaffeinated drinks still have around 1–2% of the original caffeine remaining in them, and research has found that certain decaffeinated coffee drinks can contain around 20% of the original caffeine.

In the case of coffee, various methods can be used. The process is usually performed on unroasted (green) beans, and starts with steaming of the beans. They are then rinsed with a solvent that extracts the caffeine while leaving the other essential chemicals in the coffee beans. The process is repeated anywhere from 8 to 12 times until it meets either the international standard of having removed 97% of the caffeine in the beans or the EU standard of having the beans 99.9% caffeine-free by mass. Coffee contains over 400 chemicals important to the taste and aroma of the final drink: It is, therefore, challenging to remove only caffeine while leaving the other chemicals at their original concentrations


Activated carbon is used as a catalyst for many industrial applications, gas processing, gas storage and delivery, gold recovery, pharmaceutical purification and many other practices.

One major industrial application involves use of activated carbon in the metal finishing field. It is very widely employed for purification of electroplating solutions. For example, it is a main purification technique for removing organic impurities from bright nickel plating solutions. A variety of organic chemicals are added to plating solutions for improving their deposit qualities and for enhancing properties like brightness, smoothness, ductility, etc. Due to passage of direct current and electrolytic reactions of anodic oxidation and cathode reduction, organic additives generate unwanted breakdown products in solution. Their excessive build up can adversely affect the plating quality and physical properties of deposited metal. Activated carbon treatment removes such impurities and restores plating performance to the desired level.


Activated carbon can be found in almost every hospital, clinic or doctor’s office in the world. It is used to as a poison treatment, odor control, filtration, respiration masks and wound dressing just to name a few applications.

Activated carbon is used to treat poisonings and overdoses following oral ingestion. There however is not good evidence that it improves outcomes It is not effective for a number of poisonings including with: strong acids of alkali, iron, lithium, arsenic, methanol, ethanol or ethylene glycol.

Incorrect application (e.g. into the lungs) results in pulmonary aspiration which can sometimes be fatal if immediate medical treatment is not initiated. The use of activated carbon is contraindicated when the ingested substance is an acid, an alkali, or a petroleum product.

Target Impurities

Activated carbons are used in a wide range of processes, to remove widely differing impurities, mostly of organic nature. The optimal treatment technology for your process depends on the nature and concentration of the impurities to be removed.

For effective adsorption, the pore size must roughly match the size of the molecules of the impurities. Knowing what impurities have to be removed is the key to selecting the optimal activated carbon grades with proven ability to absorb identical or similar compounds. Thus activated carbon actually removes the impurity, unlike oxidative bleaching operations in which the colored impurity is only changed to colorless products.

In the case of reducing disinfectants in water, such as chlorine and ozone by GAC, other physical properties such as particle size, shape and hardness are of major importance for the selection. When both adsorption of organic matter and de-chlorination/de-ozonation of feed water is required, a good balance between both adsorptive and other important physical properties must be achieved.


  • Liquid-phase uses for activated carbon
  • Drinking water
  • Industrial wastewater Groundwater
  • Domestic water filters
  • Process water
  • High-purity water
  • Swimming pool water
  • Aquariums
  • Sugar and sweeteners Vegetable oils
  • Alcoholic beverages (Wine, Beer)
  • Glycerol
  • Metallurgy
  • Silver recovery
  • Metallurgical flotation
  • Mineral processing
  • Chemicals & pharmaceuticals
  • Specifications for activated carbon used in chemicals and pharmaceuticals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Gas-phase uses for activated carbon
  • Process gas purification
  • Dioxin removal
  • Flue gas purification
  • Mercury removal gas treatment
  • Amine sweetening
  • Sulfacid
  • Catacarb & Benfield processes
  • CFC adsorption
  • Methanol removal
  • Hydrogen sulphide removal
  • Gasoline vapour adsorption VOC emission control
  • Indoor air purification
  • Personnel protection
  • Nuclear uses
  • Cigarette filters
  • Ozone removal
  • Jewellery protection
  • Cat litter
  • Microchip production; Microwave protection
  • Laboratory use
  • Solvent recovery
  • Activated carbon adsorption systems
  • Use of activated carbon in solvent recovery
  • Catalysts
  • Activated carbon in catalyst & as a catalyst carrier (Use in catalyst applications)