Development And Demonstration Of Trace Metals Database

EPA Grant Number: R827649C001
Subproject: this is subproject number 001 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R827649
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Center for Air Toxic Metals® (CATM®)
Center Director: Groenewold, Gerald
Title: Development And Demonstration Of Trace Metals Database
Investigators: Folkedahl, Bruce C. , Benson, Steven A. , Maki, Andrew B. , Beard, Roy B. , Galbreath, Kevin C. , Peck, Wes D. , Pavlish, John H. , Zygarlicke, Christopher J. , Miller, Stanley J. , Laudal, Dennis L. , Hanson, Paul R. , Olson, Edwin S. , Hassett, J. , Jensen, John , Holmes, Karen
Institution: University of North Dakota
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: October 15, 1999 through October 14, 2002
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Center for Air Toxic Metals (CATM) (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Targeted Research


The enormous amount of data generated in response to the increased awareness and concern regarding trace element transformation, analysis, and control is of marginal use if it is not easily accessible. To address the need for a more convenient and efficient method to utilize this ever-growing pool of data, a relational database and associated user interface were developed (Program Area 4). Information currently in the database was derived from compiled reports and test results from a variety of commercial, federal, and academic sources, including data derived from the ongoing CATM technical projects pertaining to trace element transformation, analysis, and control (Program Areas l-3) . The database has been demonstrated at various conferences and expositions and is also promoted during the Trace Elements Short Course (Program Area 5) as a tool to predict trace element emissions from fuel conversion and emission control systems.

Goals associated with this project are directed toward the development, maintenance, and improvement of tools used in the decision-making process involved in management, operation, and long-term planning of issues related to air toxic metals. Specific goals set and met in this year are as follows:

  • Collection and critical review of new data
  • Enhancement and debugging of the graphical user interface (GUI)
  • Initial development and integration of a GIS with the CATM database
  • Presentation of the use and capabilities of the CATM database at a national convention focusing on issues of air toxic metals


The CATM database was developed to serve as a centralized storage media for air toxic metals data, accessible internally through the local area network and externally through the Internet. The information in the database is organized in three major categories: analytical, engineering, and materials. The database uses a samples-based approach; i.e., a sample must contain analytical information to be included in the database. Engineering information in and of itself is not included in the database, but is entered only in association with sample information. This approach was used so that the database remains focused on trace element emissions, as there are other databases containing strictly engineering or strictly analytical information. The CATM database links this information together, such that queries regarding samples can be related to engineering and/or analytical information along with geographical information coupled in a GIS system.

The application was designed so that navigating through the database is intuitive for the user. In addition, the intended users of the database-plant operators, researchers, government personnel, plant managers, etc.-were considered. Overall, the application was designed to be simple and user-friendly, yet provide a variety of data presentations to serve a specified variety of end users.

Here is an example of how the database may be applied in researching a specific topic:

Question: Since coal-cleaning processes commonly remove a substantial amount of pyrite, could we also expect removal of As and Hg?

Approach: Use the database to correlate the Fe concentration of a number of coals with their Hg and As contents. In addition, compare the As and Hg concentrations of pulverizer rejects produced during coal processing to the resulting feed coal (pulverizer rejects are commonly high in pyrite).

The ongoing collection and input of data are extremely important for the CATM database. Industrial participation will greatly benefit the database, as well as participation from other research organizations and government agencies. In dealing with new sources of data, especially industrial data, confidentiality and security features of the database are designed to satisfy the submitter of data. Security features are implemented as necessary to ensure the level of confidentiality requested by the submitter.


The first version of the database application was completed in 1996. Data from nine full- and several bench- and pilot-scale systems were entered in the database. The bench- and pilot-scale data have been verified for input errors. Four more sets of system and analytical data have been added and are in the process of being verified for input errors. Data entry is an ongoing process that will continue throughout the CATM project.

Information in the database has been used to create an initial GIS system to display toxic metal emission data according to geographic location. The introduction of these data facilitates the usefulness and integration potential of the information contained in the CATM database. Readily available and consistent location identification data of permanent and full-scale facilities will support the development of environmental risk management strategies and assessments. The ability to link the geographical information within the CATM database with a commercially available GIS will be demonstrated.

The database was developed using client/server technology. Client/server technology allows for a physical separation between the residence of the data and the residence of the application. The data are stored in a database engine on a separate UNIX workstation that functions as a server. Traditional relational database management system design strategies were used to optimize data storage and retrieval. The application was created with PowerBuilder (PowerSoft, Inc.), a Windows-based, high-performance, object-oriented development tool. The application resides on users' individual computers and represents the client side of the architecture. The application presents the users with options for querying and displaying data through user-friendly forms and reports. Data are retrieved from the database through structured query language (SQL) calls to the server and displayed via the application on the user's PC. This arrangement takes advantage of the processing ability of the client's PC to perform functions such as sorting and arranging data that have been retrieved from the server. The server is optimized to interpret the SQL statements and perform database management functions.

The CATM application allows the user to develop very complex queries and provides many features for the display and manipulation of the retrieved data. To access the database through the Internet, a user must have access to an Internet provider and must be able to run a SLIP (serial line interface protocol) connection. (In most cases, if a user has an Internet provider, SLIP can be downloaded as freeware.) Once the SLIP connection is made, the user simply initiates the CATM application. This arrangement provides the users with all of the processing power of their PCS, i.e., speed. The only transfer of information over the Internet is the SQL statement sent to the server and the resulting data retrieved from the server and sent back to the clients' PCs. All of the other processing is executed on the individual PC. This is very important, as quick response time is essential for those using the database.

The Facility for Analysis of Chemical Thermodynamics (FACT) model has been acquired by the EERC to quantify chemical equilibria in various combustion and gasification systems. The FACT model is a comprehensive thermodynamic model that performs chemical equilibrium calculations for systems consisting of solid, liquid, gaseous, and/or aqueous phases. It contains a thermochemical database with more than 6500 species; 24 elements and 550 product species can participate in one equilibrium reaction; over 90 binary, ternary, and higher-order solutions are available to represent systems with nonideal mixing, such as slag and glass; FACT has the capability to model open systems (gas or liquids can be removed from the system in discrete intervals) to represent quasi-kinetic systems; options are available for systems to contain aqueous species, nonideal gases, and plasma ions.

New or improved thermodynamic data can be easily added to the FACT database. The EERC has added over a dozen new compounds, mainly on trace elements. Optimized solutions have been added for a number of (nonstoichiometric) ash minerals. The FACT model contains graphical tools to display input data and results and to assist in the optimization of user-defined solutions. A special feature of the FACT code is the construction of phase diagrams that are helpful in identifying metastable equilibria. A composition can be graphed as a function of temperature, pressure, or compound concentration. Spreadsheet macros have been developed to link these output files and display the results in 2-D and 3-D graphs.


The CATM database has been established to facilitate research on the prevention, transformation, behavior, and control of toxic metal emissions from energy-producing and incineration systems. The primary applications of the database are to aid in the development of methods to predict the fate of metals in fossil fuel systems, determine the effectiveness of control devices, assist in identifying new control technologies, and provide source-emission data that can be used to assess health risks. The database provides an interactive user application from which users can quickly and efficiently access and display information relevant to their particular need or area of concern. The data are maintained in a relational database engine at the EERC; however, the application has been designed such that the data are accessible through the Internet.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this subproject: View all 33 publications for this subprojectView all 235 publications for this center

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this subproject: View all 4 journal articles for this subprojectView all 39 journal articles for this center

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, air toxics, exploratory research environmental biology, Environmental Chemistry, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Chemical Mixtures - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecosystem Protection, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecological Effects - Human Health, decision-making, Environmental Engineering, Economics & Decision Making, Ecological Indicators, mercury, decision analysis, environmental decision making, decision making, toxic metals, chemical databases, trace metals database, models

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R827649    Center for Air Toxic Metals® (CATM®)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R827649C001 Development And Demonstration Of Trace Metals Database
    R827649C002 Nickel Speciation Of Residual Oil Ash
    R827649C003 Atmospheric Deposition: Air Toxics At Lake Superior
    R827649C004 Novel Approaches For Prevention And Control For Trace Metals
    R827649C005 Wet Scrubber System
    R827649C006 Technology Commercialization And Education
    R827649C007 Development Of Speciation And Sampling Tools For Mercury In Flue Gas
    R827649C008 Process Impacts On Trace Element Speciation
    R827649C009 Mercury Transformations in Coal Combustion Flue Gas
    R827649C010 Nickel, Chromium, and Arsenic Speciation of Ambient Particulate Matter in the Vicinity of an Oil-Fired Utility Boiler
    R827649C011 Transition Metal Speciation of Fossil Fuel Combustion Flue Gases
    R827649C012 Fundamental Study of the Impact of SCR on Mercury Speciation
    R827649C013 Development of Mercury Sampling and Analytical Techniques
    R827649C014 Longer-Term Testing of Continuous Mercury Monitors
    R827649C015 Long-Term Mercury Monitoring at North Dakota Power Plants
    R827649C016 Development of a Laser Absorption Continuous Mercury Monitor
    R827649C017 Development of Mercury Control Technologies
    R827649C018 Developing SCR Technology Options for Mercury Oxidation in Western Fuels
    R827649C019 Modeling Mercury Speciation in Coal Combustion Systems
    R827649C020 Stability of Mercury in Coal Combustion By-Products and Sorbents
    R827649C021 Mercury in Alternative Fuels
    R827649C022 Studies of Mercury Metabolism and Selenium Physiology