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Carbon – The Broad-Spectrum Treatment Method


Improvements in analytical testing methods and concerns over micro-constituents and emerging contaminants are continuing to drive changes in federal drinking water standards. As this happens, the use of broad-spectrum treatment techniques, like activated carbon, will continue to grow.

The use of activated carbon in treating potable water is not new. In fact, historical evidence indicates the benefits of using charcoal for purifying drinking water date back to 450 B.C. Today the unique properties of activated carbon are especially attractive to drinking water professionals evaluating technologies to ensure effective reduction of a wide range of potential contaminants.

Activation for adsorption Activated carbon is typically used in granular or powdered form for water treatment. The range of methods and raw materials for its production is nearly infinite.

Typically, carbon is activated physically or chemically by exposing the raw material to elevated temperatures (over 600 degrees C, or 1100 F) and then exposing the material to an oxidizing gas like oxygen or to a strong acid.

The process creates micropores within the structure of the material that are so small they generate adsorption forces, which are weak intermolecular forces that cause the precipitation of contaminants within the pore structure, effectively removing them from the process stream.

The activation process and raw material selection then becomes a complex matrix of