Analysis of mercury species present during coal combustion by thermal desorption

M. Antonia Lopez-Anton*, Yang Yuan, Ron Perry, M. Mercedes Maroto-Valer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

205 Citations (Scopus)


Mercury in coal and its emissions from coal-fired boilers is a topic of primary environmental concern in the United States and Europe. The predominant forms of mercury in coal-fired flue gas are elemental (Hg(0)) and oxidized (Hg(2+), primarily as HgCl(2)). Because Hg(2+) is more condensable and far more water soluble than Hg(0), the wide variability in mercury speciation in coal-fired flue gases undermines the total mercury removal efficiency of most mercury emission control technologies. It is important therefore to have an understanding of the behaviour of mercury during coal combustion and the mechanisms of mercury oxidation along the flue gas path. In this study, a temperature programmed decomposition technique was applied in order to acquire an understanding of the mode of decomposition of mercury species during coal combustion. A series of mercury model compounds were used for qualitative calibration. The temperature appearance range of the main mercury species can be arranged in increasing order as HgCl(2) <HgS <HgO <HgSO(4). Different fly ashes with certified and reference values for mercury concentration were used to evaluate the method. This study has shown that the thermal decomposition test is a newly developed efficient method for identifying and quantifying mercury species from coal combustion products. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-634
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Coal combustion
  • Thermal desorption
  • Mercury


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