Activated carbon filtration is one of many processes commonly used in water treatment to remove contaminants such as organic materials, and since it also can remove odor-causing contaminants, it’s often used to make drinking water more palatable. Activated carbon is frequently chosen for potable water applications because it efficiently adsorbs synthetic organic chemicals, chlorine, compounds that affect smell and taste, and naturally occurring organic compounds. As pollution and contamination gets worse, particularly in the developing world, activated carbon filtration is poised to grow.
Water treatment plant operators have two choices when using granular activated carbon filtration, according to Water Tech Online: Retrofitting an existing multimedia filter — typically a bed filter — by replacing its medium, or installing a new filter. Both methods require calculations of bed depth, water flow, and other factors. Operators must also allow for seasonal changes in water that may mean more frequent backwash is required. Granular activated carbon can be reactivated through thermal oxidation, which allows it to be used multiple times. Granulated activated carbon filtration can be used on its own or paired with other technologies for disinfection or other processes to achieve desired water quality. For example, it can be used with ozone in a treatment known as a biological activated carbon process.