Mercury in the Air

Many people have heard about the dangers of eating fish contaminated with mercury, but not everyone realizes that one of the ways mercury gets in the atmosphere is through coal-fired power plants.

Coal-fired power plants utilize a highly charged electric field, with the help of an electrostatic precipitator (ESP), to trap ash and other particulates. This keeps the amount of ash escaping from the plant very low. However, mercury is found in coal, and the ESPs are less adept at capturing it.

In order to solve this problem, Associate Professor Herek Clack has developed a method that works in tandem with an ESP, reducing the amount of mercury emitted into the air while at the same time not adding a separate process to an already complex power plant system.

“We do experiments and run numerical simulations to develop that optimization to be able to say, ‘These are the conditions under which both mercury and particulates are removed optimally within this electrostatic precipitator,’” Clack says in the video.

Clack’s research focuses on the study, characterization, and enhancement of fluid, thermal, and mass transport processes, primarily associated with combustion and combustion emissions control.

To watch the video about this project, please click in the box below or visit YouTube.

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