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Activated Carbon

Activated carbon is a highly engineered product used in a variety of environmental applications, including air purification, water treatment and numerous medical and consumer products.

Activated carbon is produced by charring certain types of carbon-containing materials, such as wood, coal, biomass and nut shells and then "activating" it by exposing it to high temperature steam or certain chemicals. Much like a kernel of popcorn, initially small and dense but later large and porous, once activated, specialty carbons can possess very large surface areas for a given volume of material. In some cases, as little as a teaspoon of activated carbon can possess as much surface area as an entire football field. Further, the surface area of the activated carbon contains many pores of varying sizes. Certain pollutants are naturally captured by the pores in activated carbon, allowing this material to serve as an effective filter of airborne and waterborne pollutants.

Some raw carbons, when activated, have widely varying characteristics, and are therefore suitable for different applications. Granulated, powdered and pelletized activated carbons are used for such diverse purposes as filtering municipal and household water supplies, de-odorizing, de-colorizing edible oils, soft drinks and pharmaceuticals, reducing mercury emissions from power plants and supplying the filters on gas masks.

Oxbow sources different activated carbon products from a number of countries, delivering millions of pounds of material each year.

For more information, go to

End Uses
Activated carbon is used in a wide range of industrial applications, including:
  • Water purification
  • Gas
  • Food & feed
  • Chemicals
  • Catalysts
Mark McCormick
Senior Vice President
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