Document Type



Master of Science


Environmental Engineering

First Adviser

Fox, John T.


This paper uses a real-time data collection technique to analyze VOC adsorption onto activated carbon. Specifically, butyl alcohol is run through a column of extruded or granular activated carbon until it reaches an equilibrium concentration. These results are measured by a Photo-ionization Detector (PID) and reported to a computer for easy processing. Twenty-one total types of carbon were tested for capacity and time to breakthrough, with breakthrough being designated as 350 ppm as reported by the PID. Upon analyzing results of these tests, it is confirmed that surface area is proportional to adsorption capacity. It is also found that density is inversely proportional to adsorption capacity. Some of the carbons tested were treated with 0.1 Molar strong acid or strong base and allowed to dry. For every carbon treated this way, butanol capacity dropped by between 72 – 91% because of the destruction of the micropores.