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Preparation of Activated Carbon: Forest residues activated with Phosphoric Acid and Zinc Sulfate
KTH, School of Chemical Science and Engineering (CHE).
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Tillverkning av aktivt kol från skogsavfall aktiverad med fosforsyra och zinksulfat (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Activated carbon is a highly adsorbing material and has various scopes of uses depending on needs. It is used in many industries and applications e.g. to clean industrial wastewater, in medicine, discolor sugar and so on. What makes AC such a good adsorbent is its porous structure which gives it a high surface area.

 This report consists of three parts; general information about Activated Carbon (AC) and its characteristics, to give the reader a sufficient background about AC for continuous understanding throughout the report, an experimental investigation in chemical activation of carbon with phosphoric acid as the chemical reagent and sawdust from both Cuban and Swedish Pine tree as precursors, and a second experimental investigation in chemical activation of carbon with Zinc Sulfate as the chemical reagent and sawdust from Cuban Pine tree as the precursor.

For the first experimental part as well as for the second the objective is how to best combine the three parameters; acid concentration, impregnation ratio and activation temperature in order to get the best adsorption performance when preparing activated carbon with different precursor specimens and chemical reagents.

The experiments with phosphoric acid activation show that treatment with 40% acid concentration at 400 °C produce an activated carbon with good properties for ammonia adsorption and good iodine number. If a 30% phosphoric acid is used for activation, an activation temperature of 500 °C is recommended. With an impregnation ratio of 1, good adsorption was obtained in the activated carbon produced from Swedish pine while using Cuban pine a higher adsorption was obtained with an impregnation ratio of 2.

The experiments with Zinc Sulfate activation show that influence of the sulfate concentration (between 10 % and 40 %) and temperature (between 400 °C and 500°C) on the properties for ammonia adsorption in the produced activated carbon was considerable for low impregnation ratio (0.5 and 1). In general, activation conditions of 20% zinc sulfate concentration, 400 °C and impregnation ratio: 1 are enough to produce an activated carbon with good properties for ammonia adsorption. The adsorption of carbon tetrachloride was lower. Activated carbons produced with 10 % zinc sulfate concentration, 0.5 impregnation ratio and 400 °C activation temperature (the mildest studied conditions) show already good iodine number and BET surface area.

 The main conclusion from the thesis work is that the optimal conditions vary widely with wanted results. Therefore a suggestion for future work is to narrow the research to fewer variables and more repetition of the samples.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 47 p.
Keyword [en]
Activated carbon, Chemical activation, Forest residues, Phosphoric acid, Zinc Sulfate
National Category
Chemical Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-33274OAI: diva2:414011
Subject / course
Chemical Engineering
Educational program
Master of Science in Engineering
Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics
Available from: 2011-05-02 Created: 2011-05-02 Last updated: 2011-06-22

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