Mercury emissions reduction

Bromine is used in coal fire power plant to significantly reduce mercury emissions

Bromine-based products are used to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. More than 40% of the world’s electricity is generated by coal power plants. When coal is combusted, mercury (Hg) that is present in the coal may be released. Mercury is considered a public health concern.

National laws, along with the United Nations’ Minamata Convention, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury (see more in the regulations section), are strongly encouraging countries to find ways to reduce mercury emissions. The use of bromine in pollution control installations is one of the means to enhance reduction of mercury emissions in a cost-effective manner.

How does it work?

When coal is burned, mercury may be released in three forms: oxidized (Hg2+), particulate (Hg P) and elemental (Hg0). Elemental mercury (Hg0) is difficult to capture at combustion temperatures. Bromide additives convert elemental mercury to its oxidized form, which can then be retrieved more easily by emission control equipment.

Bromine-based compounds are adaptable and can be used at
different stages of the process:

Bromine compounds can be used on their own by being sprayed onto coal or injected into flue gas.

Brominated activated carbon can be injected into the flue gas stream after combustion to capture the mercury. When injected into a power plant’s flue gas, activated carbon uses its many pores to absorb mercury. When treated with bromine, the activated carbon also oxidizes and captures even more mercury.

Did you know?

Meet the world’s energy needs

Mercury emissions have been regulated since the adoption of the US Clean Air Act and the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency (1970). Currently, global mercury emissions originating from human activities are regulated through the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international treaty signed between 2013 and 2014 by 128 countries. At the moment, twelve countries in the world have ratified the Minamata Convention. One of the main challenge for the upcoming years will be to accelerate the ratification process. The European Commission is currently undertaking preparatory work and consultations, and aims to propose the ratification of the Minamata Convention in 2015.

Thanks to bromine, we have the potential to help meet the world’s energy needs in a more environmentally responsible way through reduced mercury emissions.

Bromine, an effective solution
to mercury emissions

Learn how bromine is used to significantly reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Infosheet

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