Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Producing purified carbon

Although pure carbon is naturally found only in meteorites, it is extensively produced artificially in laboratories because of its tremendous versatility. The range of its application varies from fabricating composites for filtration to producing substrates for semiconductor industries. A novel technique that processes solid waste material has the potential to provide pure carbon in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way.
Producing purified carbon
Significant technical advances have been made in solid waste management over the last years. Although no technology is currently economically beneficial, the scientific and technical knowledge base has grown considerably, aimed at improving technology and reducing costs. Taking advantage of the process of indirect thermal treatment of solid materials, a novel technology has been developed for a fast, eco-friendly and highly efficient method for deriving pure carbon.

This technique is mainly based on flash pyrolysis, which is the decomposition or transformation of a compound through the application of heat. The solid waste material is introduced into an indirectly fired rotary reactor in a reductive environment under special pressure and temperature conditions, where it is partially evaporated and/or gasified. This is further subjected to two phases of pyrolysis: the gas vapour phase and the solid phase. Prior to its discharge for utilisation, carbon is cleansed in order to achieve great levels of purification.

The use of the advanced pyrolysis process provides high yields of pure carbon in a form that can directly be utilised in its many applications. The essential features of this technology are the very high heating and heat transfer rates, which are usually required for solid wastes, the complete control of the materials handled, the short vapour residence times of typically less than 2 seconds and the rapid cooling of the pyrolysis vapours to give the main product, pure carbon.

It is anticipated that this technique will be extensively used for appropriate management of solid waste, particularly hazardous materials. Due to the fact that there is an ever-increasing need for recycling technologies, it may also be adopted by many industries since most of them produce waste. The pure carbon discharged may be directly exploited by chemical industries for improving their end products.
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