Can salt activate charcoal / biochar?

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Can salt activate charcoal / biochar?

Postby simonshackley » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:27 am

I read an intriguing paper called 'Low-Tech Coconut Shell Activated Charcoal Production' by Cobb et al in the 'International Journal for Service Learning in Engineering', Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 93-104, Spring 2012,ISSN 1555-9033. They found that salt led to activation of coconut shell charcoal, though it was only 1/6th of adsorptive capacity of commercial GAC. I repeated their experiment using a hard word charcoal and found similar results to Cobb et al. - the salt activated char removed twice as much of the methyl orange dye as the non-activated char. When adding salt, the char seems to froth and Stephen Joseph (Prof Emeritus, UNSW) suggested there may be concentration of chloride ions in the water layer just above the floating biochar particles as evaporation occurs. I'm trying to find a way of activating charcoal / biochar cheaply and safely for use in waste water clean-up in developing countries so this possibility of using salt rather than something like NaOH or steam seems appealing. So interested in experts' opinions on feasibility / reproducibility / pitfalls of this idea. Thanks v. much, Simon
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