Chlorine Removal

Discussion: Is Activated Carbon Still A Useful Treatment For Water Systems?

Compiled by Mike Henley



Editor’s note: This column is based on a recent discussion on the LinkedIn Ultrapure Water Group. This column seeks to accurately reflect comments from each contributor. On occasion, there may be the need to edit contributor comments for clarity or length. Readers are invited to join the Ultrapure Water Group and to participate in discussions. An important purpose of the group is to provide a forum for practical discussion of issues facing endusers of high-purity water.


Activated carbon (AC) is a proven treatment technology that can work well for chlorine and organics removal. The downside to AC, also known as granular activated carbon (GAC) is that it can become a breeding place for microbials. Alternatives to carbon include ultraviolet irradiation (UV), ultrafiltration (UF), and microfiltration (MF). So, with improvements to alternate technologies, one can wonder if they offer the better approach without the problems sometimes associated with AC beds. This discussion in the Ultrapure Water LinkedIn interest group examined AC and the role it plays now.

Mike: “Does activated carbon remain a relevant treatment technology for high-purity water systems? Or, are there other better technologies that equal or better GAC filtration? Please share your thoughts.”

Nikhilesh: Activated carbon particularly, coconut shell carbon is very useful in making high-purity drinking water. Coconut shell carbon is preferred for removal organic compounds/volatile organic compounds (VOC). The reason is that coconut shell carbon has predominantly micro pores < 4 nanometer (nm), which suit the size of typical organic contaminants in water. Activated carbon, because it is hydrophobic in nature, can adsorb organic impurities that are generally hydrophobic. The other advantage of activated carbon is its very large internal surface area, > 1,000 square meter per gram. It is very effective to remove color, odor, turbidity, and to improve water taste...

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