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How to Make Activated Carbon from Biomass

Biomass activated carbon is an activated carbon product produced from natural resources, agricultural waste, etc. Agricultural waste generally includes crop straw (corn straw, wheat straw, etc.) and agricultural product processing waste (peanut shells, corn cobs, bagasse, etc.). Common bamboo activated carbon, palm shell activated carbon, coconut shell activated carbon all belong to the category of activated carbon from biomass.

Raw material

Biomass, agricultural waste, and other natural resources

Common Biomass Materials

Crop straw, corn cob, jute stick

How to Make Activated Carbon from Biomass

Natural Sources Material Advantages

Agricultural biomass resources are very rich in the world, and the development potential is huge. Taking China as an example, before the early years, China’s annual agricultural waste was about 650 million tons, and it has become an increasing trend year by year. By 2010, this amount exceeded 800 million tons. The total amount of energy that can be used for effective utilization such as activated carbon production is huge and can produce very considerable economic benefits.

Agricultural waste such as biomass, as a renewable resource, has high carbon content (usually above 45%), low ash content (generally within 5%), and extremely low sulfur content (no sulfur or trace amounts of sulfur). Therefore, biomass is a high-quality raw material for the preparation of activated carbon.

Natural Sources Material Advantages
Activated carbon from corn cob

Corncob has a rough surface, its structure is loose and its particle size is less than 100 μm. This structure tends to form a large number of pore structures during carbonization. In addition, due to the particularity of its structure, the activator can easily enter the inside of the pores during the activation process, thus forming a well-developed microporous structure.

Activated carbon from corn cob is widely used in the fields of heavy metal wastewater treatment, gas separation, and removal of organic pollutants.

Natural Sources Material Advantages
Activated carbon from jute stick

The lignin content of jute stalk is as high as 23%, which is a high-quality raw material for preparing activated carbon. Because of the porous and hollow structure and high lignin content of hemp plants, the prepared activated carbon has unique physical and chemical adsorption capabilities. Hemp-based activated carbon products made from hemp crops such as hemp, kenaf stalk, hemp stalk, sisal stalk, flax filings, and their by-products have huge market prospects.

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How to Prepare Activated Carbon from Biomass

How to Prepare Activated Carbon from Biomass

The most commonly used methods for preparing biomass activated carbon are physical activation and chemical activation.

Physical activation

The physical activation method uses CO2, air, or water vapor as the activator. When using the physical activation method, high-temperature pyrolysis and activation are usually two stages. In the pyrolysis stage, the raw materials are carbonized in the inert gas atmosphere at 400-800 ℃, and the obtained biomass charcoal has a certain pore structure. The second stage is to activate the biomass charcoal with an activator in a controlled manner at high temperatures to increase the number of pores and obtain the final biomass activated carbon required.

Chemical activation

The chemical activation method is to immerse the biomass raw material in the activator ZnCl2, FeCl3, H3PO4, KOH, K2CO3, CH3COOK, H2SO4, NaOH, and then heat and carbonize in the atmosphere of inert gas. The temperature is controlled at 400-800°C.

Combining the physical activation method and the chemical activation method can adjust the pore size distribution to obtain a biomass activated carbon product with more developed pores, larger specific surface area, and larger adsorption capacity.