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Succes Story Of A Coconut Processor - Entrepreneur Awardee In India

Kerala, in the southwestern tip of India – the name itself means “land of coconuts…” This is where “Indo German Carbons Limited” had a humble beginning in 1995 with the project for manufacturing Activated Carbon from coconut shells. India, though one among the biggest coconut producers in the world, was never a significant source for Activated carbon in the international market. Till then majority of the coconut shells was used as fuel in the country or else was discarded as agricultural waste. IGCL identified the potential of utilizing coconut shells for making value added Activated Carbon. The company’s initiative in this line paved way for India to become the largest producer and exporter of Activated Carbon.First phase of the plant was commissioned in 1998 with a capacity production of 2000 metric tonnes. IGCL was then the largest coconut activated carbon plant in India. 

Located in the industrial hub of Cochin, exploiting the advantages of abundant availability of raw material and state-of-the-art technology, the company underwent rapid expansions over the years. Now, after enhancing the capacity several times, the group has an installed production capacity of 11,000 tons and additional 4000 tons being commissioned by the end of 2012. This success was made possible with the promoters’ vision on the future, outstanding and effective management skills, continuous researches and development, stringent quality control and the truly professional approach. Today IGCL has a strong base of clientele the world over, created out of our commitment to quality and reliability. 

There is a wide variety of production and processing techniques used in manufacturing activated carbon; depending on nature and type of raw material available and the characteristics required for the intended application. “Indo German Carbons” follows the superior method of steam activation for producing activated carbon from coconut shells. 

The stringent quality measure starts right from the selection of raw material and is monitored and maintained until the delivery of goods. This is complemented by comprehensive lab testing at each stage to ensure highest quality.  Raw material is selected depending on critical quality parameters. The company directly engaged small groups and farmers in the collection, processing and manufacture of shell charcoal, along with sourcing from outside agencies. This is then stored in warehouses in the factory and other sourcing hubs.  

The process happens in a giant rotary kiln, which is heated up to around 1000 C. Activation is carried out at temperatures of 800 - 1100°C in the presence of steam. Cleaned charcoal is fed into the kiln using a controlled feed method and air is added so as to burn the gases without burning the carbon. Simultaneously superheated steam is injected into the kiln at a constant rate. Process parameters like temperature, feed and steam are adjusted depending on the quality requirement of the end product. The output from the kiln, which is over 250 C is initially cooled down and then send for the post-production process. Actual grading of the product happens here. Semi processed carbon is further sized into various grades, screened and de-dusted. If the requirement demands any pH adjustment or impregnation, this is carried out in a separate process area. Activated carbons produced by steam activation generally exhibit a 'fine' pore structure, ideal for the adsorption of compounds from both liquid and vapor phase. Upon grading, the product is send to packaging and stuffing section where it is packed and loaded on to the containers.  

An ISO 9001 certified facility; IGCL’s water treatment grade carbon products are tested and certified by NSF, a mark of quality for food related applications in the United States of America. The plant produces a wider range of granular and powder steam activated carbon products enabling to offer the most choices, precisely matching and best performing for any application. IGCL is the largest manufacturer and exporter of gold grade activated carbon products from the region and our proud clientele includes the three largest gold mining companies in the world. And the water treatment carbons are being used in a lot of households in India and worldwide through the water purification products of major purification companies. 

The company has one of the best in-house testing facilities for activated carbon quality control and development. There we follow international standards like the ASTM, AWWA, AARL and use world class testing equipment’s recommended by these agencies. Qualified technicians working round the clock assure that the products being shipped out of the factories are of best quality. We are proud of the fact that it was IGCL who established initially the Indian representation in the world map of quality Activated Carbon producers and we are thriving to maintain this repute. IGCL has thus created over 500 direct jobs and roughly over 1500 indirect employment opportunities with four manufacturing locations across Southern India and sales office in the USA. As the company diversifies into new fields related to the core business, we aim to expand our frontiers to new horizons in the ever-competitive market environment.

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