Updated: 8 Feb., 2008
Coal Fired Power Plants Must Remove Mercury From Exhaust Gasses


Coal Fired Power Plants Must Remove Mercury From Exhaust Gasses
By Charles Kubach
Friday, 8 Feb., 2008 is the date a Federal Appeals Court ruled that a rule of the EPA that permitted trading mercury pollution credits violated the Clean Air Act, and that meant coal fired power plants must remove the mercury from the air, using the "best technology available".

Radical Environmental Groups were dancing in the isles and were as giddy as little schoolgirls, as they pushed their version of "what is next". The Radical Tree Huggers, such as Natural Resources Defense Council Tree Hugger, John Walke, JD, said "toady's ruling adds to the momentum against dirty power in this country". Another giddy hugger giggled - the biggest problem is to get rid of the 600 existing coal fired power plants. Yes, it is always the role of the Radical Environmentalists to remove everything that is not to their liking and put in their place only their approved plan for society.

The problem with the Radical Tree Huggers is most are absolutely ignorant of the scientific and technical issues at hand, including the economic impacts it would have on the society of this great country. Nor do they care, they push their simple minded mantra to their gullible public, like the corner drug dealer pushing heroin, increasing the doses, until their drone members are repeating it verbatim. Their aim is domination of politics in the world and to have complete control of global policies, whereby science is relegated to growing trees, certain approved plants, and people will live in natural caves, like Neanderthals did. I do believe, though, that a Neanderthal would be capable of coming up with a better plan than anyone in any of the major environmental organizations, such as the legal ninnies of the Environmental Defense Council, Clean Air Watch and the thousand other half witted tree hugger organizations operating internationally.

It is plain to see the left winged environmental organization's motives are purely political. They want to "get rid" of companies and industries that do not fit into their delusional view of how the world should be. They do not want to fix these industries or help them produce energy, and reduce the mercury to reasonable levels. Nor do they understand that all modern societies require tremendous amounts of energy at a cost that will not bankrupt the economy. No, they only care about dominating the governing body, and forcing people to accept their delusional views of the world.

That is the half-witted radical environmental solution. A more intelligent approach to the problem might be looking at the problem, assessing the technology available and determining which potential solutions might be applied, with the least cost to the consumers and society.

From a recent scientific study by Montana Tech, there are several methods which might be applied to reduce the mercury from coal-fired power plants. First they summarize the problem, which states that coal typically has low levels of mercury, ranging from 0.10 to 3.5 parts per million by weight. Eastern Bituminous coal has higher mercury levels than does Western sub-bituminous, lower BTU coal. Approximately 1,700 coals fired power plants in the US produce over 50% of all electricity used in this country. Further, they estimate that all US coal fired power plants emit 45 tons of mercury per year, in the US. They further point out that mercury exists on gas emissions in 3 forms (1) elemental mercury vapor, (2) oxidized mercury, and (3) particulate bound mercury.

Note that their study does not account for China, India and all 3d world countries that have little or no pollution controls on their coal fired power plants and EPA regulations will have no effect on these plants continuing to put hundreds or thousands of tons of mercury in the air.

Now for the removal methods. It is known that wet scrubbers, baghouse dust control systems, and removing mercury from the ash will remove 40% of mercury produced by burning coal. Further, by combining activated carbon with a baghouse particulate removal system, the mercury will absorb onto the carbon surface and be collected in the baghouse. And since oxidized mercury is soluble in water, a wet fume scrubber will remove this form of mercury. Bur the most promising method of mercury removal is gold. Yes, that yellow metal has a natural affinity for mercury and bonds with it upon contact, forming a gold-mercury amalgam. Gold, however is around $900 per ounce. However, platinum and palladium (another platinum group metal) have been used in automobile catalytic converters for over 30 years to remove gasses from auto exhausts and platinum is over $1,800/ounce and palladium is $430/ounce, and both of these are economical to use, because such tiny amounts are spread across a ceramic surface to bond with hot exhaust gasses in autos.

So, perhaps a thin plating of gold on a filter media would be an excellent method to pursue for the removal of mercury in power plant exhaust gasses. In testing at Montana Tech, efficiency rates of 97% to 98.3% were achieved using this method. They also tested silver, which at $17/ounce, is by far cheaper than any of the other precious metals, and silver showed similar efficiencies at removing mercury. Gold, however had greater longevity, lasting 67 hours versus 20 hours for silver. This test was expanded to a larger scale pilot plant study, and it succeeded in removing over 90% of mercury continuously during the study period.

So, while the radical environmental tree huggers want to destroy the coal mining industry, the coal power generation industry and the US economy because it does not fit with their delusional vision of how the world should be, it appears that there is a very practical and cost effective method of removing this toxic metal from the power plant exhaust and we can continue to enjoy the low cost electricity generated from coal. We are blessed, in the USA, with over 200 years of coal supply, and it would be incredibly stupid for us not to use it to it's maximum benefit, to power our economy and homes. The radical environmentalists however are very stupid. I hope that the American People are not as dumb as the tree huggers think they are, and opt for clean coal technology to put this country on a energy source, independent of hostile foreign suppliers, and opt to use our natural resource, coal, to its fullest extent.

Eventually the technology will be developed to create very high efficiency solar and fusion generators, but this may take 50-100 years. In the meantime, we have the answer to our energy problems, and it is coal.

 
But that's just my opinion.
Charles Kubach
Mine-Engineer.Com

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