A series of activated carbon fibers (ACFs) and heat-treated oxidized ACFs prepared from phenolic fiber precursors have been studied to elucidate the role of pore size, pore surface chemistry and pore volume for the adsorption of SO2 and its catalytic conversion to H2SO4.
For untreated ACFs, the initial rate of SO2 adsorption from flue gas was shown to be inversely related to pore size. At longer times, the amount of SO2 adsorbed from flue gas was dependent on both the pore size and pore volume.
Oxidation of the ACFs, using an aqueous oxidant, decreased their adsorption capacity for SO2 from flue gas due to a decrease in pore volume and repulsion of the SO2 from acidic surface groups. If these samples were heat-treated to desorb the oxygen containing function groups, the amount of SO2 adsorption increased. This increase in adsorption capacity was directly correlated to the amount of CO2 evolved during heat-treatment of the oxidized ACFs. The amount of SO2 adsorbed for these samples was related to the pore size, pore surface chemistry and pore volume. This analysis is explained in more detail in this paper.