Introduction

Activated carbons are a group of carbonaceous materials with a very high porosity. Activated carbons are not present in nature. To prepare this type of materials it is necessary the selection of the precursor and the method of

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preparation. Several precursors, as wood, coals, pitches, polymers, residues with a high amount in carbon, etc., and also different methods of preparation have been used. These two factors have great importance as they determine the final porous structure of the activated carbon.

The very high porosity existing in activated carbons, together with the fact that they can be prepared with different morphologies (powders, granular, monolithic shape, fibres, cloths, pellets and others), makes them very suitable for adsorption applications both in gas and liquid phase.1'2 The efficiency of a porous material to be used in an adsorption process depends not only on the surface or the pore volume but also on the size of the porosity and on the surface chemistry of the material. Therefore the characterisation of the activated carbons is crucial for determining if it is suitable or not for a given application.

This chapter presents an overview of preparation and characterization of activated carbons (ACs), activated carbon fibres (ACFs) and activated carbon monoliths (ACMs) to be used in different applications. Examples of the performance of porous carbon materials in environmental, energy storage and space applications are presented, remarking the importance of carrying out a suitable porous texture characterization of the materials to understand and optimize their performance in each application.

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