News Release

Release Date: July 15, 2014

From Lab to Market—Reducing Mercury Emissions in U.S. Coal-Fired Power Plants

To protect the nation’s air quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued national standards in 2011 to reduce power plant emissions of mercury and other toxins. The standards were crafted largely by relying on widely available and proven controls already in use at more than half of our nation’s coal-fired power plants.

One of these control systems, activated carbon injection, was the premier technology to emerge from the National Energy Technology Laboratory’s Innovations for Existing Plants Mercury Control R&D Program. The program was designed to help the power industry prepare for anticipated mercury regulations identified in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990—and it succeeded.

As of 2013, about 25 percent of the coal-fired power plant generating capacity in the United States had full-scale activated carbon injection systems installed. These systems have the potential to remove 85–90 percent of the mercury from power plants’ exhaust at a fraction of the cost that energy experts originally anticipated.

Watch the video above to find out more about how this technology moved from the laboratory to marketplace and what it is doing to improve our nation’s air quality.

This month, NETL and other Energy Department national laboratories are showcasing ways in which technology transfer, industry partnerships, and demonstration projects ensure that public investments in science and technology have a life beyond the lab. For more information, please visit the Energy Department’s national lab webpage.