, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 761-766

Three-dimensional void space structure of activated carbon packed beds

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Abstract

The three-dimensional void space structure generated by piling active carbon grains has a large impact on the filter operation, through the modification of the transport properties inside the bed. To gain insight into the relation between morphology and transport properties, the three-dimensional void space structure of activated carbon packed beds was studied by X-ray microtomography coupled with image analysis. Image analysis algorithms allowing the determination of the total void fraction, the void size distribution and the radial void fraction profiles were developed. This methodology was used to characterize the void space structure of two filters with the same length but different diameters, 15 and 28 mm. Commercial granular activated carbon with average particle size close to 1 mm was used. The comparison of the void size distributions indicated that void sizes are almost normally distributed around only one maximum for the large filter, while the distribution has a more complex shape in the small filter. The radial void fraction profiles showed an increase of the void fraction from the center of the filter to the wall accompanied with an oscillatory behaviour at the small scale. Power spectrum of radial profiles of the large filter shows a characteristic length matching well with the carbon particle size, indicating that the carbon grains are uniformly packed in the bed. In the small filter, power spectrum suggests an uneven packing of grains. For both filters, the total void fraction measured by image analysis was very close to the value determined ‘physically’ knowing the carbon mass, bulk density and filter dimension.