The industrial revolution changed the way we think of manufacturing and made available to everyone a long list of items that make our lives easier. Many of these conveniences are powered by electricity. Today, the burning of coal generates about half of the electricity consumed in the US1. Estimates put the amount of coal reserves in North America at levels sufficient to provide electricity for the next 250 years.2 The burning of coal to produce electricity also produces solid waste, such as fly ash, and flue gas emissions into the atmosphere. Some estimate that two thirds of the SOx and a quarter of all the NOx in our atmosphere comes from electric power generation achieved by burning coal and other fuels.3 Besides the primary gas emissions, secondary emissions include such pollutants as arsenic, mercury, selenium, and boron. The Clean Air Act Amendments regulates many of these pollutants. Additionally, state legislations are taking a more stringent approach to the control of these pollutants. All of this creates a strong drive for the development and deployment of best available technology (BAT) to minimize the release of these byproducts of electricity generation. This presentation will focus on control strategies for mercury emissions in air and water process streams. Several technologies have been examined and tested over the last several years including activated carbon and inorganic sorbents. This paper will provide recent laboratory and field evaluations of additives that can be used to capture and prevent re-emission of mercury from electricity producing power plants.
2EIA, Annual Energy Review 2001, T.11.12, T.11.12, T.11.13 (http://www.careenergy.com/powering_life/abundant.asp)