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Chemical and Process Engineering Resources

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Category: Separation Technology
Question: Why choose "disposable" carbon filtration over a regenerative approach?
Keywords: disposable,carbon,filters
Answer: The amount of carbon consumed often times does not justify regeneration. The regeneration can be worse than the carbon's consumption. After regeneration you can end up with much less effective sorptivity and worse, introduce impurities in the form of water or solvents. The carbon bed's activity decreased with every regeneration and you cannot accurately the effective life left in the bed. Therefore you cannot predict a bed "break-through", which could result in disaster and is usually totally unacceptable. Activated carbon adsorption as a Unit Operation is still a little bit more of an art rather than a science. It's effectivness depends on a variety of factors such as base material, site of origin, method of preparation, etc. Typically carbons from different suppliers behave differently in various applications. Therefore, you may also expect that regeneration would also behave differently for certain carbon sources. This is not yet a clear-cut science. You need to ask yourself questions such as:Can I tolerate a solvent contaminating my main process fluid? Can I tolerate the lack of predicting a "break-through" in the bed? (usually not) You will find that the carbon adsorbent is so efficient that its microscopic pores (the stuff that does all the work)are very difficult to reach and clean out --- especially with heavy oils or hydrocarbons. Some oils will polymerize at the inner active sites and make it impossible to remove. High temperature gases can help as well as sophisticated solvents such as THF, but these are expensive propositions.