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Palm oil industry is among the
largest industry in Malaysia. According to statistical report by Malaysian Palm
Oil Board (MPOB), as of the year 2016, there are 5,737,985 hectares of oil palm
planted in Malaysia and yields 15.91 tonnes of fresh fruit bunch of palm oil
per hectares. Generally, fresh fruit bunch contains about 21% palm oil, 6–7%
palm kernel, 14–15% mesocarp fibre, 6–7% palm kernel shell and 23% empty fruit
bunch where mesocarp fruit fibre, palm kernel shell and empty fruit bunch are
the waste material (Husain et al., 2002). 

Preparing activated carbon from
palm kernel shell (PKS) by physical and chemical activation have been
extensively studied.  Sulaiman et al.,
prepared PKS activated carbon by using carbon dioxide (CO2) emission
from calcium carbonate (CaCO3) as an activating agent and found an
increment in diameter of the pores and development of micropore and mesopores
on the surface as the activation time increases.  The adsorption of CO2 capability
also was higher (31.38 mg/g) compared to the commercial PKS activated carbon
(18 mg/g) when using 45g CaCO3 as an activating agent and at
activation temperature of 950  ?C
(Sulaiman et al., 2013).  In other
work, Rugayah et al., described a preparation of activated carbon from
PKS by physical activation with steam and produced PKS based activated carbon
with Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) surface area of 607.76 m2/g with
541.76 m2/g micropore area and can removed 80.7% of chemical oxygen
demanded from palm oil mill effluent with 8.83 mg/g adsorption capacity
(Rugayah et al., 2014). 

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Preparation of PKS activated carbon
by chemical activation using potassium hydroxide (KOH), zinc chloride (ZnCl2)
and phosphoric acid (H3PO4) also have been studied (Andas
et al., 2017, Afdhol et al., 2017 and Nik et al., 2006).  Andas et al., suggest an optimal
condition of impregnation ratio (1:1.5 raw PKS/KOH) and activation temperature
of 800 °C to produce highly porous PKS activated carbon (Andas et al.,
2017).  Afdhol et al. in their
work suggest the use of KOH as an activating agent is better than using ZnCl2
as it will produce higher iodine number and lager surface area of PKS
activated carbon (Afdhol et al., 2017). 
Nik et al., propose an optimum concentration of H3PO4
(30%) with activation temperature of 500 
?C and holding time of 2 hours to produce PKS activated carbon with BET
surface area of 1058 m2/g and average pore diameter of 20.64 nm and
also capability to adsorb 100 % chromium, 99.8 % lead, 99.5 % cadmium and 25 %
copper in artificial waste water (Nik et al., 2006).

 

A study suggests that PKS activated
carbon from chemical activation using ZnCl2 as an activating agent
produced larger BET surface area compared to PKS activated carbon produced by
physical activation with steam (Hidayu & Muda, 2016).  Some researchers suggest that PKS activated
carbon is better than coconut shell activated carbon in terms of micropore and
mesopore development, surface area and carbon dioxide adsorption capacity (Daud
et al., 2014 and Hidayu & Muda, 2016).  

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