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UA researchers obtain activated carbon from cocoa husk

Photo of activated carbon monolith (f 1cm) on a bed of cocoa husk 

Alicante, 31 March 2014

Researchers at the University of Alicante have developed activated carbon from an agricultural residue unused to date, as it is the cocoa husk. The technology is part of the development of new adsorbent materials which, given the importance played by these materials in various industrial applications, is an ever expanding area.

Synthesis of activated carbons is particularly important due to their high internal porosity, which gives them high capabilities of retention in a large variety of compounds at the molecular level . "For this reason, they are widely used in many industries: pharmaceutics, distillery, food, tobacco, textile, manufacturers of fats and oils, gas producers, air conditioning systems or emission control, among others”, as explained by lecturer Juan Alcañiz Monge, main researcher of this work.

According to Dr. Alcaniz, "there are many different procedures to obtain activated carbons with good porosity from various waste from vegetable raw materials such as, for example, from coconut shell, walnut shell, almond shell, olive, cherry and peach bones, or grain husks. In most of these cases, due to the process used in its preparation, activated carbons in powder form are obtained, which are not appropriate for treating gas flows and liquid streams due to the problems caused, such as falling pressure in the flow, clogging or fouling of the product to be purified, due to dragging activated carbon fines. Therefore, the use of pieces of activated carbon is more appropriate for these applications, which are prepared after the agglomeration of activated carbon powder with a binder compound”.

The procedure, designed and patented by the Research Group in Carbonaceous Materials and Environment, is featured because it allows the development of activated carbon parts (in monolith form) with a controlled porous texture without using binders or additional steps for consolidation. This procedure can be applied to any mixture of agricultural and forestry waste and requires low cost industrial production.

The technology has been successfully tested at laboratories and is technically and economically feasible for activated carbon monoliths for their applications in various industrial sectors such as: environmental remediation, gas storage, separation of gas mixtures, purification of gas streams and elimination of impurities, among others.


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