Sample Conditioning System for Real-Time Mercury Analysis

EPA Contract Number: 68D01060
Title: Sample Conditioning System for Real-Time Mercury Analysis
Investigators: Sjostrom, Sharon M.
Current Investigators: McLaren, Scott
Small Business: Apogee Scientific Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: September 1, 2001 through September 1, 2003
Project Amount: $225,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2001) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , SBIR - Monitoring , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Mercury from combustion sources is a major concern to the nation's air quality. In December 2000, EPA announced that it would regulate mercury emissions from coal-fired boilers under Title III of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. EPA plans to issue final regulations by December 2004, and is expected to require compliance by December 2007. The Department of Energy estimates that control of mercury emissions from coal-fired utility boilers will cost billions of dollars annually. Prior to installing a mercury control system, improved measurements of mercury emissions would allow EPA and the utility to make better decisions concerning control options. Real-time continuous monitoring of mercury would provide options for advanced process control feedback and for monitoring the performance of the control system, thus lowering the cost of mercury controls.

Although a few mercury analyzers show promise for measuring elemental mercury, a reliable sampling system that allows these analyzers to measure total (particulate, vapor-phase) and speciated mercury continuously and in real time in the flue gas of coal-fired boilers is needed. Apogee is defining a new state-of-the-art in mercury measurement by developing a novel sample conditioning system (SCS) for the continuous real-time monitoring of mercury in flue gas from coal-fired boilers.

The technical objective of the Phase II program is to finalize development of a field prototype SCS allowing commercially available CVAAS or CVAFS analyzers or an Apogee-built CVAAS analyzer to measure total mercury and to differentiate between particulate, elemental, and speciated mercury in coal-combustion flue gas. Performance of the SCS/analyzer will be evaluated during Phase II using EPA's Draft PS-12.

Because CVAFS and CVAAS based analyzers detect only elemental mercury, the proposed SCS will provide three separate sample streams. In the first, flue gas is extracted and heated to thermally desorb mercury from the fly ash. All mercury is converted to elemental mercury in a reduction catalyst. In the vapor-phase sample lines, particulate is removed with an Apogee-built intertial separation system. In the total vapor-phase sample line, all vapor-phase mercury is converted to elemental mercury in a reduction catalyst. In the elemental mercury sample line, the oxidized mercury is removed in a HgCl2 removal module. In all sample lines, the gas is conditioned to remove interfering gases, dried, and stabilized prior to transport to an analyzer.

Success during the Phase I program and enthusiastic support from the Electric Power Research Institute suggest that this technique is technically viable and preliminary economic studies suggest that it will be cost effective.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, monitoring, analytical, mercury, coal-fired utility boilers, air emissions, EPA., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Toxics, Air, Waste, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, particulate matter, air toxics, mercury transport, HAPS, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, tropospheric ozone, Incineration/Combustion, Engineering, 33/50, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, monitoring, particulates, stratospheric ozone, coal fired utility boiler , continuous measurement, mercury, real time, combustion sources, particulate mercury, flue gas monitor, continuous monitoring, flue gas, emissions, analyzer, continuous emissions monitoring, mercury & mercury compounds, Mercury Compounds, measurement, sample conditioning system (SCS), atmospheric monitoring, coal combustion, real time monitoring, measurement methods , combustion flue gases, flue gases

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report

  • SBIR Phase I:

    Sample Conditioning System for Real-Time Mercury Analysis  | 2001 Progress Report  | Final Report