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UA Researchers participate in a European project aimed to reduce pollutants emission with hemp ecological filters


Alicante, 4th March 2013

Researchers at the University of Alicante participate in the European project aimed at solving the social, economic and environmental problems produced by the emission of polluting gases. The project, called CARVOC "activated carbon innovative ecological filters for the removal of volatile organic compounds", aims at helping solve the problem of the air emission of volatile organic compounds and accidental releases of toxic industrial gases, through the development of some innovative activated carbon filters from waste hemp.

The initiative, funded by the European Commission, has a total budget of over 1.5 million euros and will be in force until the end of 2014. The countries involved are: Spain:  (Alhama Linares Desarrollo y Cultura S.A., University of Alicante and Contactica SL; France: École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Rennes and TC’PLASTIC) and UK: Mast Carbon International Ltd. and Koukoula Limited)

The purpose of this project is to create "filters capable of adsorbing chemicals from highly polluting industries", researcher Diego Cazorla Amoros explains, who is the director of a research group on carbonaceous materials and environment and the person responsible for this project at the University of Alicante.

The filters resulting from this research will be integrated into industrial filtration systems and personal protective equipment, as well as included in products whose purpose is the purification of volatile organic compounds that are used and produced in many everyday and industrial applications. "The importance of these compounds is that they act as precursors to the formation of ozone on the Earth's surface, where their presence is negative, and some of them are very toxic and carcinogenic substances. Also, some of these compounds favor the destruction of the ozone in the atmosphere's higher layers, in which the ozone is a chemical compound that protects us from the higher energy solar radiation", Cazorla says.

For the manufacture of the filters, hemp waste from agriculture and industrial processing will be used, which is a particularly convenient and novel raw material since hemp cultivation represents a sustainable crop with beneficial environmental features which are not offered by other plants and whose residues have interesting advantages for the preparation of activated carbon (porous material with a large surface area, capable of adsorbing a wide variety of substances, both gaseous and liquid).

Currently 60% of the activated carbons produced worldwide are derived from coal. A portion of this activated carbon is for removing contaminants from a wide variety of sectors, both gases (hydrogen sulfide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, gasoline vapuor) and liquids (industrial water, sewage, dyeing, conditioning of drinking water, ...).

The UA MCMA research group will use different methods for activating these hemp residues to prepare porous activated carbon with textures suitable for gases and vapors and which can be used in the reduction of pollutants, with the final goal of developing a technology that allows the use of this natural waste.

Through this project, SMEs will benefit from the Research and Development (R & D) performed with the aim of assessing this waste and using the materials obtained in specific applications of the elimination of volatile organic compounds. Furthermore, CARVOC helps reduce the current rate of import of activated carbon, which is now 26%, through competitive production of these waste materials obtained from hemp.


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