The present study attempts to utilize coconut shell to prepare activated carbon using agents such as steam, CO(2) and a mixture of steam-CO(2) with microwave heating. Experimental results show that the BET surface area of activated carbons irrespective of the activation agent resulted in surface area in excess of 2000 m(2)/g. The activation time using microwave heating is very much shorter, while the yield of the activated carbon compares well with the conventional heating methods. The activated carbon prepared using CO(2) activation has the largest BET surface area, however the activation time is approximately 2.5 times higher than the activation using steam or mixture of steam-CO(2). The chemical structure of activated carbons examined using Fourier transformed infra-red spectra (FTIR) did not show any variation in the surface functional groups of the activated carbon prepared using different activation agents.
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