Multibillion dollar market for mercury reduction

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Source: The McIlvaine Company

There is a multibillion dollar market for the reduction of emissions of mercury to the air on a worldwide basis. This is the conclusion of the McIlvaine Company in Mercury Air Reduction Markets. (www.mcilvainecompany.com)

Significant conclusions are:

  • The U.S. is leading the way, but other countries are close behind
  • The market is defined by developing technology
  • Coal-fired power is the largest market
  • Waste-to-energy and other industrial applications already provide a market
  • Better sorbents and treatment chemicals are being rapidly developed
  • The regulations and the market will be technology-driven
  • China will be the biggest market in the next decade.

There are tough regulations on mercury emissions from power, cement and waste-to-energy plants which are slated for enforcement starting in 2015 in the U.S. This is creating a $1 billion annual market just for adsorbents, catalysts and treatment chemicals. However, it is unclear what market share any approach will capture.

The options for the purchaser are made more complex because of the inter-relation between mercury and other pollutants. The selection of the SO2 removal technology can greatly impact the cost of removing mercury. Once captured, mercury can be re-emitted if additional chemicals are not introduced. Fabric filters used for particulate control are more effective in the capture of mercury than are electrostatic precipitators. The purchaser facing a need for better particulate control has to decide whether to upgrade his precipitator or install a fabric filter. The need to remove mercury can influence this decision.

Suppliers of activated carbon are increasing the effectiveness of their product. At the same time, alternatives utilizing kaolin, bentonite and novel compounds are being tested and introduced to the market. There is a $200 million/yr market to measure mercury emissions. In a surprising turn of events, suppliers of continuous emissions monitoring systems are finding competition from suppliers of sorbent traps.

The largest market potential is for coal-fired power plants. However, the waste-to-energy, mining, chemical and cement sectors also provide substantial opportunities. The size of these markets will be determined by the regulations. The regulations, in turn, will be shaped by the technology. In the U.S., the EPA is required to apply MACT (maximum achievable control technology) to the removal of this pollutant. The present limits require less than 90 percent removal. In the future, this limit is likely to be much tougher.

There is a clear trend for universal adoption of the toughest regulations in any country. The U.S. has taken the lead relative to mercury, but Europe is following suit. China set a relatively high limit earlier this year but there is already movement to require 70 percent reduction.

For more information on Mercury Air Reduction Markets, click on: http://home.mcilvainecompany.com/index.php/markets/2-uncategorised/85-n056.

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