9th IEA CCC Workshop on Mercury Emissions from Coal

The 9th meeting of MEC, the annual CCC workshop on Mercury Emissions from Coal, is taking place this week in a very hot and humid St Petersburg, Russia. Attendance comprises almost 70 delegates from 20 countries, including a healthy local attendance from Russian industry, research and academia.

Day 1 of the meeting was launched with an official welcome to Russia from Dr Oxana Tsittser, the representative from the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. A telegram of congratulations and encouragement was also received from the Russian Ministry of the Environment.

The meeting commenced with a session concentrating on the issues and challenges of mercury in the host nation of Russia. Estimates of emissions from coal and coke use now and to 2030 were presented along with details of internationally funded ( US EPA, ACAP, UNEP) mercury reduction demonstration projects at two full-scale coal-fired plans in Russia. This was followed by an enthusiastic discussion of potential future activities in Russia ahead of the finalization of the UN Environment Programme’s proposed legally binding instrument on mercury (due 2013).

The next session contained presentations summarizing the status of inventories and legislation in Poland and India followed by the innovative use of a travelling monitor to identify and quantify emissions around significant geographical point sources.

Sessions 3+4 focused on monitoring mercury emissions and the challenge of accuracy and comparability in results especially at low concentrations.

Day 1 of the meeting ended with a gala dinner at St Petersburg’s,  if not Russia’s, No1 Vodka Museum and restaurant for an evening of in depth research on popular Russian cuisine and custom.

Day 2

The 2nd day of the meeting concentrated on discussion of the numerous options for mercury control. As several CCC reports have shown, there is no single method which will be suitable for reducing mercury from all coals and in all coal-fired power plant configurations. This means that there is a significant amount of competitive commercial activity in this area. Presentations covered everything from relatively well established activated carbon and bromine-based systems to more developmental options such as manganese oxide sorbents, sorbents produced from waste materials and zero-byproduct processes.

In the afternoon, the topic switched to challenges facing the UN environment programme in their work towards establishing a global legally binding instrument on mercury by early 2013. This included a summary from the UNEP Secretariat on the state of the negotiation process along with summaries of the projects being carried out internationally by the UNEP Coal Partnership under CCC leadership.

MEC9 closed with a session looking forward to potential issues and synergies for mercury control in the future. This included the consideration of mercury behavior in oxy-combustion systems and the overlap between strategies for mercury control with those for black carbon reduction, especially in India and Southeast Asia.