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MEI Online: Environmental Issues: Latest News: August 20th 2003

:: NETL Testing Mercury Removal Technology  

The NMA reports that the US Department of Energys National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is testing a promising new technology to remove mercury from coal-based power plants. The GP-254 process enhances mercury removal using ultraviolet light to induce various components of power plant stack gas to react with the mercury, and changes the composition of mercury into a form that can be removed easily and economically.

The DOE notes that when power plant flue gases are exposed to the ultraviolet light in the GP-254 process, the elemental mercury becomes "excited" making it more likely to react with other compounds in the gas. In laboratory experiments with simulated flue gas, the excited mercury reacted with oxygen and sulphur dioxide to form mercurous sulphate and mercuric oxide, both of which were readily removed.

The process is designed to work with existing pollution control devices. "Depending on when the ultraviolet light is applied, it could enhance mercury removal in the particulate collector of a wet scrubber of a coal-fired plant,"DOE said. The process could be especially attractive to power plants that burn low rank coals. In addition, a preliminary cost analysis indicates that operating costs for GP-254 will be lower than those for other methods.

NETL's Mercury Control Technology Research and Development Program is conducting full-scale field testing of various mercury control technologies. The programmes plans include developing technologies that are ready for commercial demonstration by 2005 and that reduce emissions 50 to 70%, and by 2010 to reduce emissions by 90%, all at costs 25 to 50% less than current estimates.



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