Revolutionary Mercury Reduction Technology May Be At Hand

Published April 1, 2006

Scientists disagree on whether the mercury released by U.S. power plants poses a real threat to human health, but the political reality is that coal-fired power plants must reduce their mercury emissions by at least 70 percent by 2018. Some states are imposing even more dramatic reductions and shorter time frames.

Two burning questions are how will coal-fired power plants reduce their mercury emissions, and how much will it cost consumers? In February, Chem-Mod, a privately owned environmental services company, announced it has discovered a simple, cost-effective, and proven way to meet and significantly exceed upcoming mercury emission reduction mandates.

90 Percent Cut Possible

On February 8, Chem-Mod LLC, based in Stow, Ohio, announced it has developed a dual injection sorbent system that, implemented during the coal combustion process, can reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent or more, reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by as much as 75 percent, and reduce other pollutants such as chloride, arsenic, and heavy metals.

“The utility industry has been searching for an affordable and effective way to reduce mercury and other toxic emissions for years,” noted former U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, a senior advisor and indirect equity holder of Chem-Mod. “We believe this technology has the potential to revolutionize the industry by making it possible for coal-fired power plants to exceed the proposed EPA Clean Air Mercury Rules today and in a cost-effective way for utilities.”

“We have done full-scale testing at three separate commercial coal-fired power plants in three different parts of the country using various grades of coal. The results at every facility have met and exceeded our pilot test expectations for reducing mercury, sulfur dioxide, and other toxic emissions,” explained Chem-Mod Vice President Doug Comrie.

Test Results Impressive

Full-scale testing in a real-world setting began in October 2005. In the first round of tests, conducted by the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), an independent research laboratory affiliated with the University of North Dakota, Chem-Mod’s technology reduced mercury emissions by up to 98 percent and sulfur emissions by up to 40 percent.

A second round of real-world testing took place in November 2005 at a different coal-fired power plant. Chem-Mod’s technology reduced mercury emissions by as much as 90 percent and sulfur emissions by as much as 75 percent.

In a third round of testing in December 2005 at a third power plant, Chem-Mod technology reduced mercury emissions by as much as 86 percent and sulfur emissions by as much as 45 percent.

“Chem-Mod’s test results show that significant mercury emission reductions at coal-fired power plants are achievable,” said Thomas Erickson, associate director for research at EERC, verifying the results. “We were extremely pleased to have provided our world-class mercury testing and research capabilities to assist Chem-Mod in this endeavor.”

“Results from the limited testing we have done with the Chem-Mod process at our Corette power plant in Montana were promising,” added Paul Champagne, president of PPL Energy Plus. “We are working with Chem-Mod on plans for more extensive testing at a PPL generating facility.”

May Pay for Itself

What makes Chem-Mod technology particularly appealing, according to the company, are the financial benefits for firms installing the dual injection sorbent system. Chem-Mod reports it can provide its system for approximately $2 million to $8 million for a 200-megawatt plant, whereas the average cost of installing current wet scrubber technology at a similar plant could be $20 million to $80 million.

Chem-Mod claims its technology resulted in approximately 6 percent increased furnace efficiency in real-world tests. Moreover, the technology allowed power plants to produce commercially viable fly ash, which can be sold to concrete producers, as opposed to unusable ash that power plants currently must pay landfills to accept.

Chem-Mod has retained HSBC Securities (USA) to negotiate with partners to commercialize the new technology and a possible sale of the company. Utilities around the world have expressed interest in buying the technology.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

For more information …

More information about Chem-Mod is available online at

More information on mercury regulation is available through PolicyBot™, The Heartland Institute’s free online research database. Point your Web browser to, click on the PolicyBot™ button, and select the topic/subtopic combination Environment/Mercury.