Environmental science & technology

Development of a mercury transformation model in coal combustion flue gas.

PMID 15575303


A bench-scale entrained-flow reactor was used to extract flue gas produced by burning a subbituminous Belle Ayr coal in a 580-MJ/h combustion system. The reactor was operated at 400 degrees, 275 degrees, and 150 degrees C with a flow rate corresponding to residence times of 0-7 s. Transformations of elemental mercury (Hg0) and total gas mercury (Hg(gas)) in the reactor were evaluated as functions of temperature and residence time. The most significant mercury transformations (Hg0 to Hg(p) and Hg0 to Hg2+) occurred at 150 degrees C, while virtually no obvious mercury transformations were observed at 275 degrees and 400 degrees C. Approximately 30% of total mercury has been oxidized at temperatures higher than 400 degrees C. A mass transfer-capacity limit model was developed to quantify in-flight mercury sorption on fly ash in flue gas at different temperatures. A more sophisticated model was developed to demonstrate not only the temperature and residence time effects but also to consider the effective surface area of fly ash and dependence of mercury vapor concentration on mercury transformations in flue gas. The reaction orders were 0.02 and 0.55 for Hg0 and Hg(gas), respectively. Only a few percent of the total surface area of the fly ash, in the range of 1%-3%, can effectively adsorb mercury vapor.