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Biotechnol Bioeng. 1987 Mar;29(4):445-52.

Physicochemical factors affecting ethanol adsorption by activated carbon.

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Department of Food Science, University of Georgia Athens, Georgia 30602.


Powder and granular activated charcoal were evaluated for ethanol adsorptivity from aqueous mixtures using an adsorption isotherm. Ethanol adsorption capacity was more pronounced at 25 degrees C as compared to 5, 15, and 40 degrees C. When pH of the ethanol-buffer mixture (0.09 ionic strength) was changed from acidic (2.3) to neutral and then to alkaline (11.2), ethanol adsorption was decreased. Increasing ionic strength of the ethanol-buffer mixtures from 0.05 to 0.09 enhanced ethanol adsorption but a further increase to 0.14 showed no significant effect. Ethanol adsorption was more efficient from an aqueous ethanol mixture as compared to semidefined and nondefined fermentation worts, respectively. Heating granular charcoal to 400 degrees C for 1 h and 600 degrees C for 3 h in N(2) increased ethanol adsorptivity and heating to 1000 degrees C (1 h) in CO(2) decreased it when ethanol was removed from dilute solutions by simple pass adsorption in a carbon packed column. Granular charcoal was superior to powdered charcoal and an inverse relationship was noted between the weight of the granular carbon bed in the column and ethanol adsorbed/g carbon. Decreasing the column feed flow rate from 7.5 to 2.0 L aqueous ethanol/min increased the adsorption rate.


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