A Study of the Factors that Affect the Preparation of Activated Carbons from Corn Husks

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Eid Alkhatib, Ph.D.


Activated Carbon is an environment friendly absorbent used in a variety of industrial applications ranging from water purification to supporting catalysts in heavy industrial processes. There are also several ways to produce activated carbon; however it is the cost incurred in producing the activated carbon on a large scale which poses a considerable challenge to manufacturers. Not only the cost, but the conditions and resources needed in order to successfully and commercially produce active ted [sic] carbon is a complicated task in itself. Therefore the aim of this study is to investigate the complexities that exist in the manufacturing of activated carbon. There are many raw material sources used in the manufacturing of activated carbon but the one that will be investigated in this study are corn husks which could prove to be highly feasible due to their abundance and on an average have good carbon content which makes them a suitable choice. Some of the major factors that are known to affect the activation of carbons will also be studied in great detail during this study. These include the nitrogen gas flow rates which has been kept at both 200 mL/min and 400 mL/min during this study, and activation temperatures which has been kept at 600°C and 800°C for the purpose of this study, and the concentration of Zinc Chloride which has been kept at firstly 25% and then at 50% and lastly the impregnation time which has been kept at 1.5 hrs and 3 hrs giving us a total of 16 samples to study. These samples will be subjected to iodine and methylene blue adsorption in order to observe the the [sic] adsorption properties of the samples quantitatively. there [sic] were 4 factors investigated that could have potentially influenced the adsorption capacity and characteristics of the activated carbon that was produced using com husks. These factors were the inert N₂ flow rate during carbonization, the concentration of the activating agent ZnCl₂, the activation time and the activation temperature. Furthermore there were two criterion chosen for evaluating the adsorption capacity and characteristics which were: the iodine number in order to determine the relative distribution of the micropores which indicate the internal surface area and the methylene blue adsorption number which indicate the relative distribution of the mesopores. Additionally, the BET theory was also applied in order to evaluate the surface area of the activated carbon.


Master's thesis submitted to the faculty of Sacred Heart University's Chemistry Program in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Chemistry.