PI: Jonas Baltrusaitis
Co-PI(s): Carlos Romero
University: Lehigh University

Activated carbon is a sorbent material widely used for removal of harmful pollutants in gases and liquids. One application that has gained increased attention is the application of activated carbon for mercury removal from coal-fired power plant flue gas. Mercury is a toxic metal targeted for emissions control, due to its toxicity, high volatility, and potential for bioaccumulation. The market for activated carbon for mercury emissions compliance is large and active. Activated carbon can be prepared from different raw materials that include coal and biomass.

With a recent decline in coal markets, anthracite coal producers have been exploring alternative market opportunities for their coal production. Blaschak Coal Corporation mines Pennsylvania anthracite coal and is actively searching avenues and new markets for its products. Blaschak has partnered on a project with Lehigh University and the University of Kentucky that aims at characterizing the full range of anthracite sources it mines at various mine sites and from multiple coal veins. A review of anthracites has indicated the potential of this coal rank to be an efficient sorbent material, comparable to commercially activated carbon from other raw materials. Blaschak desires to use these characterization results as the basis for selection of raw anthracite to be used for activated carbon preparation.

Lehigh University and Blaschak intend to carry out a project under PITA funding to investigate a methodology for synthesis of anthracite for mercury capture in flue gas, in a way that is competitive with commercially available products. Results from this study will be presented in terms of the sorption characteristics and mercury capture efficiency of the activated anthracite-based carbon in comparison to a benchmark product commonly used by coal-fired power plants. A report will be prepared summarizing the methods used in the study, the test results, and a discussion on the assessment and potential of an activated anthracite for mercury capture applications in flue gas.