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UDRI Wins Grant for Clean-Coal Research

UDRI Wins Grant for Clean-Coal Research

The University of Dayton Research Institute was one of six recipients sharing $1.5 million in grants from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority for university-based, clean-coal research projects. The other award winners are: The University of Cincinnati, the Ohio State University, Ohio University, the University of Akron and Case Western Reserve University.

UDRI was awarded $160,000 to determine how, when and why the mercury in coal changes form when coal is burned. Understanding this is critical to allowing coal-burning utilities to develop pollution control systems that will effectively capture mercury released from coal before it is emitted into the air, water and eventually our food chain, said Phil Taylor, a distinguished research scientist in the Research Institute’s Energy and Environmental Engineering division and one of the two principal investigators in the clean-coal projects. “We want to find out why the mercury from some kinds of coal can be captured in pollution control systems, while others cannot,” Taylor said.

Sukh Sidhu, a senior research engineer within the same division and the second principal investigator in the program, said mercury in coal is released as gas when coal is burned. As the released gas continues to be heated through the combustion process, the mercury changes form – becoming either elemental mercury or oxidized mercury. The control of mercury is very much dependent on what form it takes during processing,” Sidhu said. “For instance, oxidized mercury can be easily captured with water, while elemental mercury cannot.”

Taylor said mercury transformation is also affected by where the coal is from. “In Ohio, coal is ranked relatively ‘high’ for having a lot of energy content,” he said. “But out in the West, the coal is of lower rank and has a lower energy content. The mercury from Western coal does not convert in the same way Ohio coal does.”

By studying the kinetics of mercury transformation, the researchers believe they can predict how mercury in different ranks of coal will transform under various combustion circumstances. “Our goal is for a utility to tell us, ‘these are our operating conditions,’ then we can tell them what form the mercury will take and they can devise the appropriate pollution control system,” Sidhu said.

For more information, contact Phil Taylor at 229-3604, or Sukh Sidhu at 229-3605.

July 15, 2005

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