ITDI Reactor Produces Cheaper Activated Carbon
The Industrial Technology Development Institute(ITDI) of the Department of Science and Technology has developed a reactor which produces cheaper activated carbon(AC) from dried coconut shells and surplus energy which can be converted into electricity.
Cora Magpantay, senior science research specialist of ITDI’s Fuels and Energy Division, said that in the new technology, carbonization and activation are done in a single reactor whereas in the conventional process, these are done separately and eats up more energy.
The reactor has a capacity of 15 kilos per hour while in the conventional process, only 12 kilos of AC are produced per hour. And since it follows a continuous process and uses the gas that it produced for activation, it also reduces the production cost. “The process that takes place in the reactor is self-sustaining since the gas produced is also used to produce steam that is needed in the activation phase.” she added.
Carbonization is the thermal(application of heat) of converting biomass like coconut shell into charcoal by drying off its volatile components. The charcoal then undergoes activation by reacting with steam at a high temperature. Then the inner surface areas of char particles will expand and form many capillary tubes or fine pores in the char.
As the process continues, it produces surplus energy which could be used in coconut processing and other agro-industrial operations. And since the surplus energy can also be converted into electricity. AC plants could now be integrated with rural electrification projects particularly in coconut plantations in small islands.
AC is a widely used adsorbent for industrial applications and environmental clean-up operations such as treatment of wastewater and drinking water and air purification. It is ideal for application where purification at trace concentration is required. It is also used to recover trace elements of gold and to adsorb unwanted metals like lead in water.
Today, it is observed that the global demand for AC is relatively increasing and this is attributed to the increasing industrial activities and stricter environmental regulations.
The Philippines could benefit from this growing demand for AC. Since it is a leading producer of coconuts and it now has an improved technology to produce AC, its product will become cheaper and marketable both in the local and foreign markets. If this happens, coconut farmers and those engaged in the charcoal business will earn more.