Air filters are designed to remove unwanted compounds from the air we breathe.  Whether the desire for removal is aesthetic (odour reduction), health-based, or process-driven, there are numerous activated carbon products that will fit this application.

Air filters are used to remove unwanted compounds from the air we breathe.  In addition to the nuisance odours that many of these compounds cause, inhalation of many of these contaminants over time could lead to health problems (respiratory issues such as asthma, eye irritation, headaches, and more serious issues when toxic and/or carcinogenic compounds are involved).  In addition to these factors, various industrial processes (pharmaceutical production, electronics) require extremely clean ambient air to prevent contamination.

Activated Carbon GranulesMany activated carbon products are on the market today that offer the necessary properties for air filtration.  Typically, a carbon with a high micropore volume is the starting point, to allow for a high capacity for contaminants at low concentrations.  Activated carbon can be used in extruded, granular, and powdered forms.  Extruded forms are the most common due to lower pressure drop, and powdered carbons are often immobilized onto a substrate (non-woven fabric).

When considering activated carbon for air filtration, several factors needs to be taken into account:

  1. Adsorbate type and concentration
  2. Oxidation/reaction potential for adsorbed compounds (most commonly associated with ketones)
  3. Air temperature, and
  4. Relative humidity of the air stream (RH levels in excess of 50% can lead to excessive moisture adsorption onto the carbon, impacting contaminant removal)

Common contaminants encountered in air filtration applications include:


Contaminant Source Jacobi Product
Formaldehyde Cigarette smoke

Furnishing/carpet outgassing

AddSorb® VF Series
Ammonia Cigarette smoke

Pet odours

Human odours / sewage

AddSorb® VB Series
Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) Human odours / Sewage AddSorb® VA Series

AddSorb® Sulfox Series

Thiols (mercaptans) Human Odours / Sewage EcoSorb® C Series

EcoSorb® GX Series

AddSorb® Sulfox Series

Organic Acids

(e.g. butyric acid, propanoic acid)

Human Odours / Sewage EcoSorb® C Series

EcoSorb® GX Series

Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) Cooking

Wood / Coal / Gas burners

EcoSorb® C Series

EcoSorb® GX Series

Complex sulfur compounds

(e.g. allicin, allyl methyl sulfide)

Cooking (onions, garlic) EcoSorb® C Series

EcoSorb® GX Series


(e.g. triethylamine)

Cooking (fish) AddSorb® VB Series
Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) Smog AddSorb® VA10
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Various EcoSorb® C Series

EcoSorb® GX Series

In subsequent Carbon 101 articles, we will explore several of these applications in more detail.

Click the button below to download a Jacobi Technical Bulletin for more information on Air Filtration.