What are the best materials for absorption? and why?
It somewhat depends on what is being absorbed, but two most common
absorbants are: "activated" charcoal, and silica gel.
Both absorb because of their high surface area, which is a result of their
structure which is highly porous.
You need to be more specific. Absorption of what? Palladium absorbs
hydrogen very well, activated charcoal is terrific for chlorine gas, and
"superabsorbent" polymers beat everything else for soaking up water. So no
single material is nest for absorbing all substances.
Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois
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Update: June 2012