Release Date: August 14, 2000
|New Projects Positioning Coal-Fired Utilities to Meet Possible Mercury Control Standards with New, Lower Cost Technologies|
With the Nation's coal-burning utilities facing the possibility of tighter controls on mercury pollutants, the U.S. Department of Energy is preparing to fund two projects that could offer power plant operators better ways to reduce these emissions at much lower costs.
The department will provide just over $5.5 million to McDermott Technology, Inc., of Alliance, OH, and ADA Environmental Solutions, LLC, of Littleton, CO, to test full-scale advanced mercury control methods at several of the nation's power plants. The two firms will contribute nearly $3 million.
Mercury is known to have toxic effects on the nervous system of humans and wildlife. Although it exists only in trace amounts in coal, mercury is released when coal burns and can accumulate on land and in water. In water, bacteria transform the metal into methylmercury, the most hazardous form of the metal. Methylmercury can collect in fish and marine mammals in concentrations hundreds of thousands times higher than the levels in surrounding waters.
In June 2000, the National Academy of Sciences released a report reinforcing the importance, especially for women in their child bearing years, of heeding consumption advisories of noncommercial fish to avoid methylmercury. The Environmental Protection Agency has until December 15 to decide whether to regulate mercury from coal-fired utility boilers.
The challenge of reducing mercury emissions from power plants today is that no uniform method of technology exists. Current pollution controls were designed for other types of pollutants, and their effectiveness in reducing mercury emissions can vary from boiler to boiler. Depending upon the power plant, reduction levels can range from 90 percent to zero.
To provide more consistent and lower cost methods, the two companies will demonstrate mercury control at different points in a power plant's flue gas cleanup process. McDermott will test a technology developed jointly with its Babcock and Wilcox partner that enhances the effectiveness of "wet scrubbers" - the technology used by more than a quarter of the nation's coal power plants to reduce sulfur pollutants. ADA will test a system that works in concert with a power plant's baghouse or electrostatic precipitator to remove dust-like solid particles from a plant's exhaust gas.
The goal is develop technologies by 2005 that will be capable of cutting mercury emissions 50 to 70 percent at well under one-half of today's costs. Both projects were selected from the first of two rounds of competitions the Energy Department began in March, 2000. In October, the department will announce selections of more novel, less developed control systems for testing at pilot plant scales. The deadline for these project proposals is August 31.
McDermott Technology, Inc., in conjunction with Babcock and Wilcox
The Babcock and Wilcox/McDermott technology adds very small amounts of a liquid reagent to the scrubbing solution to attain its target of 90 percent mercury removal at costs one-half to one-fourth those of today's commercially available activated carbon mercury removal methods.
The project is expected to begin in October and last for 18 months. It is estimated to cost $1.75 million, with $1.2 million provided by the Energy Department. The project team includes the two utilities that will host the tests and the Ohio Coal Development Office. If the project proves successful, Babcock and Wilcox will offer mercury control technology for commercial use in both new and existing wet flue gas scrubber systems.
The technical contact is Dennis K. McDonald, (330) 860-6175, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
ADA Environmental Solutions
ADA's technology will inject a dry sorbent, such as fly ash or activated carbon, that adheres to the mercury and makes it more susceptible to capture by the particulate control devices. A fine water mist will be sprayed into the flue gas to cool its temperature to the range where the dry sorbent is most effective. Because cooling the flue gas can increase the formation of corrosive sulfur trioxide, ADA's technology also includes a reagent injection system to control the buildup of sulfur trioxide if needed.
PG&E Generating is providing two test sites that fire bituminous coals and are both equipped with electrostatic precipitators and carbon/ash separation systems. Wisconsin Electric Power Company is providing a third test site that burns Powder River Basin coal and has an electrostatic precipitator for particulate control. A fourth plant, equipped with a fabric filter, will be added to the test program.
The 36-month project will receive $4.5 million from the Energy Department. ADA Environmental Solutions and an 11-organization support team will provide an additional $2.2 million. The technical contact is Michael D. Durham, (303) 734-1727, e-mail: email@example.com
|Contact: David Anna, DOE/NETL, 412-386-4646|