Southern Research develops new methods to capture pollutants

Engineers and technicians at the Birmingham-based Southern Research Institute have come up with new methods to measure the levels of mercury, trace elements, hydrogen chloride, and fine particles being emitted from power plants. Robert Dahlin, director of Southern Research's Power Systems and Environmental Research in Alabama said many plants have already installed or are in the process of installing scrubbers that can be optimized for capturing certain pollutants.

Southern Research is already working to improve processes to control mercury, selenium, arsenic, hydrogen chloride, and fine particles, in some cases conducting groundbreaking work developing new test methods and instruments, and improving process and emission control technologies. The Birmingham-based group’s pilot-scale demonstration facility can quantify the level of control achieved from conventional pollution-control technologies.

Response to EPA’s rule

Late in 2011, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) limiting mercury, acid gases and other toxic pollution from power plants, Southern Research was already working with industry to respond to dictates of the new rule, one which could prove costly to some coal-fired utilities.

The EPA issued the rule in response to health and environmental concerns associated with emissions of mercury, other toxic trace elements, acid gases, and particulates. The new standard, based on maximum achievable control technology (MACT), applies to coal and oil-fired utilities.

Southern Research will attend the Energy, Utility and Environment Conference (EUEC) meeting (Jan.30-Feb.1) in Phoenix. In addition to being able to discuss this new rule and impact to power plants, the team will present technical information on BR Injection Technology for Hg mitigation at coal-fired power plants, novel integrated catalytic hot gas cleanup, aqueous sludge gasification technologies, microturbine power generation from landfill & other waste gases, and development of a Water Research Center.