Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know more about our work?

Here are some of the most common questions we receive from our neighbors, customers, and job applicants. We’re always happy to answer any further queries, or you can schedule a tour of our facilities.

  • Activated carbon is the product we use in our filters. It can be made from any carbon-rich raw material, including coal, wood, or even nutshells or fruit pits.

    To “activate” this material, or give it purifying capacity, we heat it at very high temperatures in a special furnace. This is done without oxygen, so it is charred rather than burned. To create pores, steam is introduced – it’s a bit like a sauna!

    During filtration, these pores soak up impurities in air and water like a sponge. This process is called adsorption.

    After saturation, the carbon is treated in our reactivation furnaces. The impurities are desorbed and completely destroyed, and the carbon is usually reactivated for reuse. This circular process boosts the sustainability of activated carbon, cutting the carbon footprint of both Desotec and our customers.

  • Activated carbon is a widespread technology used to achieve stringent purification standards across numerous industries.

    Activated carbon is used in filters to purify water, liquids, air emissions, and gas in various industries including pharma, biogas, manufacturing, and remediation.

    It enables these industries and many others to comply with the environmental laws that protect our planet for future generations.

    Your own home is also likely to contain activated carbon, in appliances such as water filters and kitchen extraction hoods. It really is a very versatile, proven, and harmless filtration method!

  • Health and safety are top priorities to Desotec, and we have decades of experience and expertise in keeping our workers and neighbors safe. We ensure that we use activated carbon in a way that presents no risk to health.

    Our facilities are fitted with extraction systems to minimize dust. Our staff are trained and equipped to handle activated carbon safely, and are monitored during operations to ensure they remain protected at all times.

    Waste carbon is stored carefully, and all emissions from our industrial processes are continuously monitored to ensure that only harmless water vapor is seen exiting the chimney. That means the air, water, and soil around our facilities remain clean at all times, presenting no health issues for people living nearby.

  • Once filters are returned from customers to our facilities, they are emptied, checked, and cleaned. The waste carbon is sorted.

    1. Reactivation is how we recycle carbon. The carbon is treated in our furnaces at high temperature, releasing (desorbing) the components that were adsorbed at customers’ sites. Our lab carries out quality controls before the carbon is placed back in other filters for customers.
    2. Flue gas treatment is how we purify (burn) gases, and treat and recover the components desorbed from the reactivation process.

    The entire process is continuously monitored, with oversight from the environmental authorities, assuring that all unwanted components are destroyed in this process.

    Through our work and our reactivation of carbon, we cut CO₂ emissions equivalent to the amount produced by 80,000 passenger cars per year.

  • We analyze all used carbon to find out what components it has adsorbed, and in what concentrations. If we cannot reactivate the carbon, we send it to specialized waste management centers for safe valorization.

    Most used carbon can be reactivated. The adsorbed components are treated in a two-step process:

    1. They are destroyed in our furnaces, producing water vapor.
    2. The residue is neutralized using several techniques, leaving dust and salts. These are then collected and either reused or disposed of.

    Before treatment, the waste carbon is stored using relevant safety measures such as airtight containers or thermal cameras. There is zero risk of the components infiltrating the surrounding soil or air.

  • Activated carbon can indeed produce harmless dust. We ensure that our staff always work in hygienic conditions by cleaning our facilities continuously and at every shift change. Of course, we always provide staff with personal protective equipment such as dust masks for certain operations as well.

    We filter the air that is extracted from our facilities, so emissions contain only harmless water vapor and no dust.

  • What you see coming out of our chimneys is water vapor and air – effectively, clouds!

    The water vapor comes from the wet carbon that we reactivate. Furnaces 3 and 4 have extra purification steps, namely wet scrubbers, and release extra water vapor.

    There are also tiny amounts of neutralized residues from our reactivation process. Our emissions are kept under continuous monitoring, so we know that the total organic carbon (TOC) is just 0.0003% of the “clouds” you see. This is well below the level that we are permitted to emit by the environmental authorities.

    In fact, our work and our reactivation of carbon cuts CO₂ emissions equivalent to the amount produced by 80,000 passenger cars per year.

  • We use certified, calibrated measuring systems that are adjusted, checked, and maintained by specialist external companies. We cannot adjust them or edit their values ourselves.

    These systems continuously monitor our emissions and transmit the data to the authorities. The regional authorities in the Belgian region of Flanders have set some of the strictest emissions limits in Europe – and on average, we reach just one-fifth of this permitted level.

    We have ensured that our emissions are as clean as possible by investing in state-of-the-art technology that is unique in our industry. Plus, as part of our commitment to sustainability, we carry out research and development into new technology and systems to further reduce these levels.