Analysis of porosity in activated carbons: Reconciling gas sorption with scattering data

Jemma Rowlandson, S C Parker, K J Edler, V Ting

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Nanoporous activated carbons have been demonstrated to be useful for myriad applications due to their propensity for adsorbing and sequestering molecules. This ability has been exploited for biomedical applications (to remove harmful biological molecules such as cytokines from the bloodstream), recovery of organic solvents from industrial processes for recycling, scrubbing of CO2 from waste gas streams and in energy storage applications, for achieving extremely dense storage of gaseous fuels such as hydrogen. The selectivity of these carbon materials is due to the structure (size, geometry and connectivity) of their internal pores.

Characterisation of the disordered pore structures of activated carbons is challenging, as atomic positions cannot be reliably determined from X-ray or neutron crystallography. While micron-sized pores can be interrogated using techniques such as electron microscopy and X-ray tomography, nanoscale pores (which contain the highest densities of adsorbed gas and thus provide the greatest advantage for gas storage applications) are not accessible using these methods. Gas sorption is the most widely available and thus most commonly applied technique for determining the pore dimensions and pore size distributions of nanoporous carbons.

We present our investigations into the pore structure of a range of nanoporous carbon materials using small and wide angle X-ray and neutron scattering. These results are compared to those obtained from analysis of nitrogen sorption isotherms at 77 K, to determine if pore size distribution calculations from gas sorption are indeed appropriate for describing disordered nanoporous carbon materials or if new methods for analysing the pore sizes of such materials will need to be developed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Event10th International Symposium on the Characterization of Porous Solids (COPS-X) - Granada Exhibition and Conference Centre, Granada, Spain
Duration: 11 May 201414 May 2014


Conference10th International Symposium on the Characterization of Porous Solids (COPS-X)


  • COPS-X


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