KINGSPORT, TN - Activated charcoal from wood chips, saw dust and other biomass can be powderized and used to filter mercury out of exhaust from coal-fired boilers, says enviraPAC, giving old power plants a new lease on life.
Coal-burning power plants and industrial facilities across the United States face likely closure, unable to comply with more stringent EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations to reduce their mercury emissions by 90 percent in coming years.
enviraPAC says its proprietary technology for producing and injecting activated charcoal into exhaust flues could solve the problem. Activated charcoal is a familiar filtration material, used in consumer markets to clean a=everything from fish tanks to kitchen exhaust hoods. The global demand for activated carbon is expected to increase by more than ten percent per year through 2016.
The Kingsport, TN enviraPAC, a division of The EnviraCarbon Companies, says it saw the opportunity to use its powdered activated charcoal, produced in an environmentally friendly way, to clean emissions from coal-ired power plants.
Steve Hooper, CEO and co- Founder of enviraPAC, says "With a large number of aging power plants that require costly and large-scale improvements to meet environmental regulations, enviraPAC is in a unique position to supply a more efficient, cost effective alternative to traditional methods."
Its wood-based powdered activated carbon product, enviraPAC Hg™, replaces traditional activated carbon products produced from coal. The carbon is injected to capture and prevent mercury emissions from coal flue gas.
The process uses a patent-pending biomass carbonization reactor able to convert biomass into a carbon product at a 25-50% conversion rate with no external heat inputs. The carbonization system is able to produce enough heat to dry incoming biomass and drive the activation process, while leaving energy available for other purposes such as electricity generation.
"Normal activation of coal requires approximately 11,000 cubic feet of natural gas to drive the activation reaction," explains the company at its website. "Because of the unique and proprietary way we manage the decomposition of the incoming biomass we are able to utilize the energy from combustion of the gases and tars produced in decomposition rather than using natural gas, or other external energy sources for heating." The process uses 40% less energy than traditinoal methods, says enviraPAC.