Technology demonstration for reducing mercury emissions from small-scale gold refining facilities.

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Gold that is brought from artisanal and small-scale gold mining areas to gold shops for processing and sale typically contains 5-40% mercury. The uncontrolled removal of the residual mercury in gold shops by using high-temperature evaporation can be a significant source of mercury emissions in urban areas where the shops are located. Emissions from gold shop hoods during a burn can exceed 1,000 mg/m{sup 3}. Because the saturation concentration of mercury vapor at operating temperatures at the hood exhaust is less than 100 mg/m{sup 3}, the dominant component of the exhaust is in the form of aerosol or liquid particles. ... continued below

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Habegger, L. J.; Fernandez, L. E.; Engle, M.; Bailey, J. L.; Peterson, D. P.; MacDonell, M. M. et al. June 30, 2008.

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Gold that is brought from artisanal and small-scale gold mining areas to gold shops for processing and sale typically contains 5-40% mercury. The uncontrolled removal of the residual mercury in gold shops by using high-temperature evaporation can be a significant source of mercury emissions in urban areas where the shops are located. Emissions from gold shop hoods during a burn can exceed 1,000 mg/m{sup 3}. Because the saturation concentration of mercury vapor at operating temperatures at the hood exhaust is less than 100 mg/m{sup 3}, the dominant component of the exhaust is in the form of aerosol or liquid particles. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with technical support from Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne), has completed a project to design and test a technology to remove the dominant aerosol component in the emissions from gold shops. The objective was to demonstrate a technology that could be manufactured at low cost and by using locally available materials and manufacturing capabilities. Six prototypes designed by Argonne were locally manufactured, installed, and tested in gold shops in Itaituba and Creporizao, Brazil. The initial prototype design incorporated a pebble bed as the media for collecting the mercury aerosols, and a mercury collection efficiency of over 90% was demonstrated. Though achieving high efficiencies, the initial prototype was determined to have practical disadvantages such as excessive weight, a somewhat complex construction, and high costs (>US$1,000). To further simplify the construction, operation, and associated costs, a second prototype design was developed in which the pebble bed was replaced with slotted steel baffle plates. The system was designed to have flexibility for installation in various hood configurations. The second prototype with the baffle plate design was installed and tested in several different hood/exhaust systems to determine the optimal installation configuration. The significance of coagulation and collection of the mercury aerosols in exhaust ducts, which is dependent on the hood and collector configuration, was also evaluated. Prototype demonstration tests verified the theoretical basis for mercury aerosol capture that can be used to optimize the baffle plate design, flow rates, and hood exhaust ducts and plenum to achieve 80% or higher removal efficiencies. Results indicated that installation configuration significantly influences a system's capture efficiency. Configurations that retained existing inlet ducts resulted in system efficiencies of more than 80%, whereas installation configurations without inlet ducts significantly reduced capture efficiency. As an alternative to increasing the volume of inlet ducts, the number of baffle plates in the system baffle assembly could be doubled to increase efficiency. Recommended installation and operation procedures were developed on the basis of these results. A water-based mercury capture system developed in Indonesia for installation in smaller shops was also tested and shown to be effective for certain applications. The cost of construction and installation of the baffle plate prototype was approximately US$400. These costs were reported as acceptable by local gold shop owners and government regulators, and were significantly lower than the cost of an alternate charcoal/copper mesh mercury filter available in the region, which costs about US$10,000. A sampling procedure that consists of a particle filter combined with a vapor analyzer was demonstrated as an effective procedure for analyzing both the aerosol and vapor components of the mercury concentrations. Two key findings for enhancing higher mercury collection were identified. First, the aerosol/vapor mercury emissions must be given sufficient time for the mercury particles to coagulate to a size that can be readily captured by the baffle plates. An interval of at least 6 seconds of transit time between the point of evaporation and contact with the slotted baffle plates is recommended. Some particles will also deposit in the exhaust ducts between the point of evaporation and the baffle plates. Second, the slots in the baffle plates create jets that force the mercury particles to impinge and adhere on downstream surfaces. The baffle plates should closely follow the designs developed for this system to be most effective.

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  • Report No.: ANL/EVS/TM/08-6
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-06CH11357
  • DOI: 10.2172/937011 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 937011
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc897427

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • June 30, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Sept. 28, 2016, 6:14 p.m.

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Habegger, L. J.; Fernandez, L. E.; Engle, M.; Bailey, J. L.; Peterson, D. P.; MacDonell, M. M. et al. Technology demonstration for reducing mercury emissions from small-scale gold refining facilities., report, June 30, 2008; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc897427/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.