Comparison of wood-based activated carbon and coal-based activated carbon

Home » Comparison of wood-based activated carbon and coal-based activated carbon
comparison of wood activated carbon and coal activated carbon


Wood based activated carbon and coal based activated carbon are two common types of activated carbon, they are used in air filtration, water treatment, solvent recovery and etc.

wood-based activated carbon has many types, such as coconut shell activated carbon, fruit shell activated carbon, wood-based poder activated carbon, wood-based granular activated carbon, etc. Coal—based activated carbon includes coal-based powder activated carbon, coal-based columnar activated carbon, and coal-based granular activated carbon. Wood-based activated and coal-based activated carbon have similarities in shape and color, how to distinguish them in an easier way?

Wood-base activated carbon

Wood-based activated carbon production use superior fuelwood, sawdust, and wood chips as raw materials, adopts physical method, phosphoric acid method, and zinc chloride method, and processes all materials into activated carbon.

The mesoporous structure and specific surface area of wood-based activated carbon are more developed so that its adsorption capacity is large and the filtration speed is fast. High strength low ash, reasonable pore size distribution; High ignition point.

Wood-based activated carbon application
  1. Gas phase adsorption
  2. Recovery of organic solvents such as benzene series gas toluene, xylene, recovery of acetone in the acetate fiber industry, recovery of CS2 in the production of viscose staple fiber, etc.
  3. High adsorption and desorption properties, thereby greatly improving the recovery rate of solvents. Elimination of harmful gases, glutamic acid and salt, lactic acid and salt, citric acid and salt, wine, condiments, animal and vegetable protein, biochemical Decolorization, refining, deodorization, decontamination and impurity removal of products, pharmaceutical intermediates, vitamins, antibiotics, and other products.

Coal-based activated carbon

Coal-based activated carbon production mainly include carbonization and activation. Coal-based activated carbon has a well-developed pore structure, good absorbability, high mechanical strength, easy recovery, cost-effectiveness, etc. coal-based activated carbon is applied for toxic gas purification, waste gas treatment, industrial and domestic water purification treatment, solvent recovery, and other aspects.

Coal-based activated carbon application

Coal-based activated carbon is widely used in the deep purification of drinking water, industrial water, and wastewater. It is also applied to gas phase adsorption, including power plants, petrochemical, oil refinery, food and beverage, sugar and wine, medicine, electronics, fish farming, shipping, and other industries. Coal-based activated carbon can effectively absorb free chlorine, phenol, sulfur, and other organic pollution in water, especially the precursor of mutants (THM), to purify and remove impurities and odors.

Differences between wood-based activated carbon and coal-based activated carbon

Wood-based activated carbon is made from sawdust, fruit shell, and “three residues” of forest products. Coal-based activated carbon is made from coal-based material. Due to the different raw materials, wood-based activated carbon and coal-based activated carbon are different in the production process, technology, product attribute, and applications, etc.

Liquid phase adsorption: coal-based activated carbon contains large quantity of heavy metal and ash, lower product purity. Coal-based activated carbon mainly adopt phsical method, pore is microporer, suitable for small molecule adsorption, so it has narrow application range, generally include petrochemical, metallurgy, printing and dyeing, sewage treatment and other industrial fields. Wood-based activated carbon has low content of ash, less impurities, it is easy to purify. Under the chemical production process, it is easy to adjust the pore distribution structure of activated carbon, with well-developed micropores and mesopores, and is widely used, especially in food and beverage, medicine and other fields that require high adsorption performance and product safety. So, wood-base activated carbon cannot be replaced with coal-based activated carbon.

Gas phase adsorption: coal-based activated carbon has big intensity, and it is convenient to recover, so it is normally used in the gas phase adsorption. Wood-based activated carbon has lower intensity, Traditionally, it is not used for gas phase adsorption. However, with the advancement of technology and the improvement of production technology, the application of wood activated carbon has also been expanded to some emerging gas phase adsorption fields such as oil and gas recovery, household air purification, etc. and as people pay attention to health, with the increasing attention to environmental protection, its application space in the field of gas phase adsorption will further increase.

From the view of potential: coal resource is non-renewable, coal-based activated carbon resources are limited and carbon dioxide emissions are greatly increased during the production process, so product prices are on the rise driven by raw materials and environmental protection costs. Because the main raw material of wood-based activated carbon is the “three leftovers” of forest products, which can be recycled, and the price is expected to tend to decrease relatively due to technological progress, the long-term competitive advantage of wood-based activated carbon is higher than that of coal-based activated carbon.

Wood-based activated carbon and coal-based activated carbon are different in the production process, technical characteristics, product characteristics, and many other aspects. Therefore, from the perspective of industry, they belong to different industrial fields. The former belongs to the forest product chemical industry, and the latter belongs to the coal chemical industry. At the same time, due to the difference in the downstream application fields of coal-based activated carbon and wood-based activated carbon, the downstream customers of wood-based activated carbon and the units that use coal-based activated carbon are also different. The downstream users of wood-based activated carbon are mainly in the fields of food and beverage, medicine, etc., while the customers of coal-based activated carbon manufacturers are concentrated in industrial fields such as chemical industry, printing and dyeing, and sewage treatment.

How to distinguish wood-based activated carbon and coal-based activated carbon?

In fact, in terms of appearance, wood-based activated carbon and coal-based activated carbon are not easy to distinguish, but we can use a few simple methods to distinguish them.

Weight: put the powdered activated carbons of two materials in the same humidity space for several days, and then weigh two kinds of carbons of the same quality, the smaller one is coal-based charcoal, and the larger one is wood-based charcoal.

Ash: Weigh two powdered activated carbons of the same quality and burn them. The one with less ash content can be preliminarily confirmed to be wood powdered activated carbon.

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