, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 265-274

First online:

Physical and chemical properties of PAN-derived electrospun activated carbon nanofibers and their potential for use as an adsorbent for toxic industrial chemicals

  • P. SullivanAffiliated withAir Force Research Laboratory
  • , J. MoateAffiliated withAir Force Research Laboratory
  • , B. StoneAffiliated withApplied Research Associates
  • , J. D. AtkinsonAffiliated withUniversity of Illinois
  • , Z. HashishoAffiliated withUniversity of Alberta
  • , M. J. RoodAffiliated withUniversity of Illinois Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


A recently developed carbon material, electrospun Activated Carbon nanoFiber (ACnF), exhibits strong potential for use as an adsorbent for toxic industrial chemicals (TICs). As-prepared ACnF contains as much as 9.6 wt% nitrogen, creating a basic surface that enhances acid-gas adsorption. ACnF shows 4–20 times greater HCN adsorption capacities and 2–5 times greater SO2 adsorption capacities in dry nitrogen, compared to commercially available activated carbon fiber cloth (ACFC) and Calgon BPL™ granular activated carbon, which are considered here as reference adsorbents. ACnF has 50 % of the micropore volume (0.30 cm3/g) of these reference adsorbents, which limits its adsorption capacity at high concentrations for volatile organic compounds (>500 ppmv). However, at low concentrations (<500 ppmv), ACnF has a similar capacity to ACFC and about three times the VOC adsorption capacity of Calgon BPL™. ACnF’s small fiber diameters (0.2–1.5 μm) allow for higher mass transfer coefficients, resulting in adsorption kinetics nearly twice as fast as ACFC and eight times as fast as Calgon BPL™. ACnF drawbacks include hydrophilicity and reduced structural strength. The rapid adsorption kinetics and high capacity for acidic TICs warrant further investigation of ACnF as an adsorbent in respiratory protection and indoor air quality applications.


Adsorption HCN Nanofiber SO2 Butane Toxic industrial chemical Activated carbon