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Title: Subtask 4.27 - Evaluation of the Multielement Sorbent Trap (MEST) Method at an Illinois Coal-Fired Plant

Owners of fossil fuel-fired power plants face the challenge of measuring stack emissions of trace metals and acid gases at much lower levels than in the past as a result of increasingly stringent regulations. In the United States, the current reference methods for trace metals and halogens are wet-chemistry methods, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Methods 29 and 26 or 26A, respectively. As a possible alternative to the EPA methods, the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) has developed a novel multielement sorbent trap (MEST) method to be used to sample for trace elements and/or halogens. Sorbent traps offer a potentially advantageous alternative to the existing sampling methods, as they are simpler to use and do not require expensive, breakable glassware or handling and shipping of hazardous reagents. Field tests comparing two sorbent trap applications (MEST-H for hydrochloric acid and MEST-M for trace metals) with the reference methods were conducted at two power plant units fueled by Illinois Basin bituminous coal. For hydrochloric acid, MEST measured concentrations comparable to EPA Method 26A at two power plant units, one with and one without a wet flue gas desulfurization scrubber. MEST-H provided lower detection limits for hydrochloric acid than the reference method.more » Results from a dry stack unit had better comparability between methods than results from a wet stack unit. This result was attributed to the very low emissions in the latter unit, as well as the difficulty of sampling in a saturated flue gas. Based on these results, the MEST-H sorbent traps appear to be a good candidate to serve as an alternative to Method 26A (or 26). For metals, the MEST trap gave lower detection limits compared to EPA Method 29 and produced comparable data for antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cobalt, manganese, selenium, and mercury for most test runs. However, the sorbent material produced elevated blanks for cadmium, nickel, lead, and chromium at levels that would interfere with accurate measurement at U.S. hazardous air pollutant emission limits for existing coal-fired power plant units. Longer sampling times employed during this test program did appear to improve comparative results for these metals. Although the sorbent contribution to the sample was reduced through improved trap design, additional research is still needed to explore lower-background materials before the MEST-M application can be considered as a potential alternative method for all of the trace metals. This subtask was funded through the EERC–U.S. Department of Energy Joint Program on Research and Development for Fossil Energy-Related Resources Cooperative Agreement No. DE-FC26-08NT43291. Nonfederal funding was provided by the Electric Power Research Institute, the Illinois Clean Coal Institute, Southern Illinois Power Company, and the Center for Air Toxic Metals Affiliates Program.« less
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
University Of North Dakota
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Country of Publication:
United States