PI: Carlos Romero
Co-PI(s): Zheng Yao
University: Lehigh University

Activated carbon is a sorbent material widely used for removal of harmful pollutants and impurities 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 (primarily bituminous and lignite) and biomass. With the 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, funded by Ben Franklin Technology and Partners, with Lehigh University and the University of Kentucky that aimed at characterizing the full range of anthracite sources it mines at various mine sites and from multiple coal veins. A review of anthracites have 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. Blaschak also participated with Lehigh in a laboratory feasibility study funded by Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance (PITA). This project proved the merit of anthracite to produce activated carbon.

Lehigh University and Blaschak intend to carry out a second phase project under PITA’s funding to investigate the feasibility and performance, in the field, of activated anthracite for mercury capture in a coal fired power plant flue gas silpstream, in a way that is competitive with commercially available products. Testing in a power plant is provide a change to see the field performance of the activated material since the real flue gas stream contains multiple compounds that would impact the actual performance of the product. 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, equipment, and procedures used in the field test, as well as the test results and a discussion on the assessment and potential of a larger scale test project of activated anthracite for mercury capture applications in flue gas at a power plant.