Articles online

Emission and Species Distribution of Mercury during Thermal Treatment of Coal Fly Ash

Category: Air Pollution and Health Effects

Volume: 16 | Issue: 7 | Pages: 1701-1712
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2016.04.0135
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Yi Wang1,2,3, Lin Shi 1,2,3, Pen-Chi Chiang 1,4, Xiao-Fang Mou1,2,3, Hong-Ji Liang1,2,3

  • 1 School of Environment and Energy, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510006, China
  • 2 The Key Lab of Pollution Control and Ecosystem Restoration in Industry Clusters, Ministry of Education, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510006, China
  • 3 Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Environment and Pollution Control, Guangzhou 510006, China
  • 4 Graduate Institute of Environmental Engineering, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10673, Taiwan


Semi-mobile mercury was the main species in FA.
The more precise residual carbon contents in FA was determined with TGA.
Semi-mobile mercury in FA was transformed to extractable mercury at 200°C.
Non-mobile mercury emitted with combustion of residual carbon at 600–800°C.
Emission of mercury should be control when FA was heated higher than 300°C.


The thermal treatment of coal fly ash (FA) utilized by industries will inevitably lead to the emission of mercury, potentially causing atmospheric pollution. The present study is aimed at understanding the emission amount and species distribution of mercury during FA thermal treatment, and attempts were made to further provide basic data of mercury emission for environmental utilization of the FA by industries as raw materials. The physio-chemical properties of FA were analyzed and FA samples were heated at 200–1200°C in a tubular furnace in an oxidizing atmosphere. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) was carried out to determine the content of residual carbon in FA. The mercury species distribution was determined using United States EPA method 3200. The results indicated that semi-mobile mercury was the main mercury species in FA. Owing to the adsorption of residual carbon on Hg0, more residual carbon which lead to higher proportion of semi-mobile obtained in coarser size grades. 20% of total mercury emitted at 206°C, followed by a rapid growth of the emission rate of mercury at above 206°C, and the emission of total mercury achieved to be 50% and 90% corresponding to 291°C and 515°C, respectively. A distinct transformation from semi-mobile mercury to extractable mercury occurred at 200°C due to catalytic oxidation of Hg0 and enhance the mobility and potential toxicity of mercury. Both extractable and semi-mobile mercury decreased sharply at 300–400°C. Finally, the non-mobile mercury was emitted with combustion of residual carbon in FA at 600–800°C. It was thus concluded that measures would be taken to control emission of mercury for environmentally friendly utilization of coal FA by industries when the FA was heated higher than 300°C.


Coal fly ash Mercury Species distribution Emission Thermal treatment

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