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Cross-section of a gas mask filter, with sorbent material visible

A sorbent is a material used to absorb or adsorb liquids or gases. Examples include:

  • A material similar to molecular sieve material, which acts by adsorption (attracting molecules to its surface). It has a large internal surface area and good thermal conductivity. It is typically supplied in pellets of 1mm to 2mm diameter and roughly 5mm length or as grains of the order 1mm. Occasionally as beads up to 5mm in diameter. They are typically made from aluminium oxide with a porous structure.
  • Materials used to absorb other materials due to their high affinity for doing so. Examples include:

Method of action[edit]

When used in a chemical spill acting as a sorbent, oil-absorbent pads must attract oil preferentially to water i.e. – it should be oleophilic and hydrophobic. Sorbent materials must act by adsorption or less commonly by absorption. Both adsorb material, as well as absorbents, incorporate the oil or other liquid to be recovered into the body of the material.[1]


  1. ^ "What are Oil Absorbent Pads Made Of? Use of Absorbent Materials in Oil Spill Response". Park Non Woven - Manufacturer of Non Woven Fabric. 2021-06-29. Retrieved 2021-11-22.