The mercury won’t rise in Wisconsin

The US Department of Energy and We Energies have initiated a joint venture to demonstrate technology that will remove 90 percent of mercury emissions from coal-based power plants.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) and We Energies have initiated a joint venture to demonstrate Toxecon, a technology that will remove 90 percent of mercury emissions from coal-based power plants.

Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham described the agreement and the technology as “a milestone that meets the goals of the President’s National Energy Policy that would make better use of coal. It shows we can use our most abundant fossil fuel while protecting the environment and elevating our level of energy and economic security.”

Under the agreement, We Energies of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will design, install, operate and evaluate the Toxecon process as an integrated system to control emissions of mercury, particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides during the operations of its Presque Isle plant at Marquette, Michigan.

The $52.9 million Toxecon project will create an estimated 1,500 jobs. To be managed by DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, it is the second of eight projects selected last year for inclusion in Round 1 of the Clean Coal Power Initiative. DOE’s share of the cost of the five-year project is $24.8 million, and We Energies’ share is $28.1 million.

In the Toxecon process, sorbents are injected into a power plant’s exhaust stream to soak up the pollutants so they can be captured and prevented from being released to the atmosphere.

When completed in 2009, the project is expected to reduce mercury emissions at the plant by 90 percent; capturing about 80 pounds of mercury per year. It will also eliminate 1,145 tons per year of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and 428 tons per year of nitrogen oxides (NOx) reductions of 30 percent and 70 percent respectively above what Presque Isle currently removes.

If successful, Toxecon may be the primary mercury control choice for users of western coals, and the only choice for units burning any coal type with hot-side electrostatic precipitators, markets totalling 68 gigawatts of electric power production, which is approximately 22 percent of North America’s coal-based generation.