Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

Out of the Blocks: A Review of the 7th International Activated Carbon Conference

By Dr. Henry Nowicki

The 7th Annual International Activated Carbon Conference (IACC) week was held Sept. 13-17, 1999, in Pittsburgh, Pa. About 100 individuals participated as vendors, speakers and attendees.

The event followed the same format as prior conferences. Early in the week, Dr. Milton Manes, professor emeritus at Ohio’s Kent State University, provided a two-day short course titled “Activated Carbon Adsorption: Principles and Practices,” and Wayne Schuliger, P.E., research and development director at TIGG Corp. in Bridgeville, Pa., provided a one-day short course “Design of Activated Carbon Process Systems.” These optional courses—available yearly—preceded the two-day conference, which started Sept. 16. After Schuliger’s course, a plant tour on some operational aspect of the activated carbon industry is provided as an option for attendees. This year, a tour of the laboratory at Professional Analytical and Consulting Services Inc. (PACS), of Pittsburgh, Pa., was provided. Next year, a spent carbon regeneration facility will be visited.

The conference is designed to provide many different ways for attendees to participate. Speakers presented their work in 25-to-30 minute talks followed by a Q&A session. Thursday, a luncheon was dedicated to activated carbon Hall-of-Fame winners—active mentors for the next generation of activated carbon developers (see Figure 1). That evening was Vendor’s Night, which included exhibitors such as United Manufacturing International, Horiba Instruments an Biomin Inc.

Speaker presentations
Twenty-five presentations and 14 vendors participated in educational sessions at the conference. Highlights of some of the speakers are provided:

Giardia and Crypto—Dr. Stanley States provided the plenary lecture on Friday discussing Giardia and Crytosporidium. States is the laboratory director for the Pittsburgh Water Department. He described occurrence, testing, characterization and water treatment plant studies for these two notorious microorganisms for the Allegheny River, its tributaries and its watershed. His talk covered use of granular activated carbon (GAC) for microorganism control.

Carbon performance software—Homer Yute, a software writer with PACS Inc., provided information on three new software programs he has developed for the activated carbon industry. These programs provide predictions of how activated carbon will perform in vapor and liquid phase applications. A recently created database of physical and chemical properties of many compounds was described. Yute also demonstrated the software at Vendor’s Night.

PACS also provided information about a new process to regenerate spent activated carbons (AC). Their liquid process is based on recovery of adsorbates and recycling of regenerative chemicals. Regeneration of model hydrocarbon spent AC and results from ten real-world SAC in a side-by-side evaluation with the present thermal furnace activation was reported. PACS is seeking support to commercialize the technology. Supporting companies will gain knowledge to help solve their problems.

Reducing agricultural pollution—Dr. Jon Snyder, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reported on the adsorption of methyl bromide onto carbon. The goal was to provide an economical means of preventing the release of this agricultural fumigant to the atmosphere. The methyl bromide exhausted carbon bed was shown to be easily regenerated by passing an electric current through it.

Nitrous oxide—Sorbent Technologies Corp., Twinsburg, Ohio, reported its results on two new uses of activated carbon: NOx control for diesel generators and jet-engine maintenance activities. Nitrogen oxide from the exhaust gases is first adsorbed onto activated carbon panels. Later, it’s desorbed in a concentrated stream and destroyed in a thermo-catalytic reactor. The company’s paper described successful tests of a mobile filter unit for mobile diesel engines and trials on large units constructed at two jet engine test facilities.

Carbon on-line—Dr. John Pinkerton, of Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pa., spoke on the subject of the Internet and e-commerce opportunities for the activated carbon industry. Pinkerton reviewed current trends and projects involving the Internet and addressed the issues required to build and maintain a site for effective e-commerce participation, with recommendations particular to the activated carbon industry.

Cutting mercury emissions—Dr. Henry Nowicki, PACS Inc., Pittsburgh, spoke on “Preparation, Characterization, and Performance Testing of New Sulfur Impregnated Activated Carbons for Mercury Emission Control.” The new products had 10 times more mercury capacity than present commercial mercury chemisorption products. His talk focused on characterization of new sulfurized (S) sorbents and elemental mercury (Hg) vapor phase chemisorption by the reaction of Hg with S, i.e., Hg + S ® HgS.

More on mercury—Bill Purves, Purves & Case, Cleveland, presented a talk titled “Mercury a Very Volatile Subject” in which he presented information of a new test instrument being manufactured by a Russian firm that measures vapor phase and total mercury species. Purves also exhibited the instrument at Vendor’s Night.

A world economy—Dr. Patricia Dsida, of ChemAdvisor, Pittsburgh, spoke on globalization of hazard communications. This is a harmonization with the activated carbon manufacturing industry, which has become a global product in the last 10 years. Dsida described software programs that can be provided in several languages.

Heat-immersion testing—Dr. Amos Turk, a private consultant from Danbury, Conn., presented a paper on practical uses of the heat-of-immersion test method to evaluate service remaining in used activated carbons. This test method has been under discussion at several prior conferences. Turk will introduce the test at an upcoming American Society for Testing Methods (ASTM) event for activated carbons as a precursor to getting it ASTM certified as an approved method. Presently ASTM test methods are based on physical and chemical evaluations of unused new carbons. Turk’s method provides valuable information about remaining service time of activated carbons in real world working carbon adsorption systems.

Unable to attend
CEM Inc., a microwave firm in Matthews, N.C., was unable to send a representative because of Hurricane Floyd. The Charlotte, N.C., airport was closed and evacuation of the area recommended. CEM did supply stimulating data for a new method to accomplish ash determination of AC. The present ASTM test method requires 18 hours to determine the ash values in AC. Ash values, the smaller the better, are important in the purchasing decision because of more effective performance and their impact on pH. However, use of microwave technology offers to provide ash results in less than two hours.

Individuals who didn’t attend the IACC this year can still participate. Proceedings from the conference are available; and firms can send their marketing pages for inclusion in the proceedings. This document consists of one-page abstracts of the speakers and the corporate marketing pages. The proceedings have a prominent tab to separate the abstracts from the marketing pages. A free attendance package to the next conference is also given away each year—with Scott Cowherd of C*Chem, Lafayette, Colo., won the free ticket for the next event.

Precautions in the Southeast and Northeast for Hurricane Floyd resulted in 10 people not being able to attend the conference, including three speakers cancelling. Those who missed this year have said they plan to participate at the 8th IACC in September 2000.

Conclusion
At the close of each conference, attendees are asked to ask themselves these questions to help focus on the next conference: “So What?” and “What Now?” These two questions highlight the function of growth and advancement of any industry that plans for a vibrant entity and not stagnant, i.e. customer sales, research and development projects, the next conference, etc. After all, no business or industry can afford to rest on their laurels and be passed over by technological or managerial innovations of today and the future.

About the authors
Barbara Sherman is responsible for short courses and conferences at Professional Analytical and Consulting Services Inc. (PACS), a Pittsburgh, Pa., training organization. PACS not only hosted the conference reviewed above, but also has provided related short courses and conferences for the last 17 years. Sherman coordinates short courses in public and at client’s time and place throughout North America. She can be reached at (800) 367-2587 or (724) 457-1214 (fax). For information, see the PACS website: http://members.aol.com/hnpacs/pacs.htm

Henry G. Nowicki, Ph.D., is responsible for activated carbon products and services at PACS. Nowicki conducts research and development activities to take out and put chemicals into activated carbons. He has developed software programs for the activated carbon industry; the AC TESTER instrument to evaluate used and virgin activated carbons, ASTM laboratory testing, GC/MS, ICP/AA and consulting services. Nowicki, who also is a member of WC&P’s Technical Review Committee, can be reached at (724) 457-6576, (724) 457-1214 (fax) or email: HNpacs@aol.com

A part of the week long activities, a luncheon is held to honor prior Hall-of-Fame winners and bring new individuals into this group.

Dr. A. Al-Khalidi from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh gave the plenary talk to honor the prior Hall-of-Fame winners. He spoke about supercritical fluid technology advances such as extraction of model spent activated carbon samples and modern available equipment and possibilities of how it could be used in the activated carbon industry.

Prior award winners are:
• Dr. Milton Manes, PACS short course instructor and consultant, retired.

• Dr. Amos Turk, private consultant, Danbury, Conn.

• Jonathan Cooper, consultant, retired from Calgon Carbon Corp., and

• George Tobias, former Evirotrol Inc. president and CEO (deceased).

Nominations for this award for the next meeting—which will be held Sept. 21-22, 2000—are is open until May 1, 2000. Information about selection criteria and the process are available by calling (724) 457-6576 or emailing: Hnpacs@aol.com

FYI: Carbon
PACS Inc. course descriptions and/or copies of the IACC Proceedings can be obtained by calling 1-800-367-2587.

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