University of Pittsburgh
August 23, 2005

Cleaning Up Coal's Act

Pitt researchers receive DOE grant aimed at controlling mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-Pennsylvania's total mercury emissions are the second highest in the United States, behind Texas. Controlling those emissions is the goal of University of Pittsburgh research under a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to study the reactions of mercury and associated trace metals in coal-fired power plants.

Under the three-year, $400,000 grant, titled "Partitioning and Mechanism Studies for Mercury and Associated Trace Metals within Coal-Fired Processes," Pitt environmental engineering professor Radisav Vidic and colleagues will study chemical reactions and transformation of mercury in flue gases of coal-fired power plants. They will then develop and validate a mathematical model to predict mercury emissions.

"If we can understand fundamentals of the catalytic reactions that are promoted by solid surfaces present in coal combustion systems, we will be able to describe key phenomena responsible for the fate of mercury in coal-combustion systems," said Vidic. "Subsequently, we can develop more effective and efficient technologies for controlling mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants."

The grant is part of the DOE's University Coal Research Program, which supports research in clean coal technology.