Transfer of photochemical technique to control mercury from flue gas

Electric power generation within the UnitedStates is accomplished primarily by thecombustion of fossil fuels. This produces airpollutants, including such acid rain precursorsas sulfur dioxide ornitric oxides. Thesepollutants are regulatedby existing laws.Mercury is a majorpollutant that hascaused much concernbecause of its toxicityand appearance in theecology, for examplein the food chain viafish. Mercury is notcurrently regulated.Although only about48 tons of mercury areemitted from all U.S.power plants over thecourse of a year andthe mercuryconcentration isexceedingly small in flue gas, EPA hasdeemed that regulations will be enacted in2005.The technology that was transferred camefrom an in-house research effort at theNational Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The nominees were able to patent anovel technique to enhance the removal ofelemental mercury from flue gas, which usesthe capability of mercury to photochemicallyreact in the presenceof ultraviolet light ofa specific wavelength.The nomineespublicized theseresults viaprofessionalconferences, peer-reviewed journals,and DOE pressreleases. A companythat could utilize thispatented techniquerealized that this wasmore efficient andless costly than onethey were using.After representativesof the companycontacted NETL, anexclusive license for the patent was negotiatedfor the technology transfer. The potentialmarket for the technology could be $3 billion.
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