EERC Team Reduces Mercury for Chemical Weapon Destruction
The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota, in partnership with the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), has demonstrated the effectiveness of a mercury pollution control technology for chemical weapons incinerators.
These positive results are expected to allow CMA incineration sites to immediately implement mercury control approaches, saving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on unnecessary further testing and development.
Results from multiple long-term tests of more than 5000 hours at the EERC on simulated gas emission streams show that the carbon adsorbent mercury control approach is an extremely effective method of removing mercury from the incineration process gas. During the study, the EERC achieved greater than 99.99 percent capture of the mercury.
“As a long-term researcher at the EERC, this work for CMA and SAIC, although challenging, has been among the most satisfying research I have worked on,” said Stan Miller, senior research manager. “We were able to provide the data necessary to help CMA move forward with chemical weapons destruction and provide significant cost savings.”
Since ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on April 29, 1997, prohibiting the development, use, production, and acquisition of chemical weapons, the United States joined 86 other nations in agreeing to destroy all chemical weapons and former chemical weapons production facilities. Today, more than 180 nations have also ratified the CWC.
CMA has already destroyed much of the U.S. stockpile in long-term storage since originally produced in the 1940s and 1950s. Operational experience has led to additional challenges. One such challenge was that chemical mustard agent residues formed during incineration were contaminated with mercury levels that would produce high levels of emissions if uncontrolled.
If the CMA sites had been required to stop the processing and shut down to install and test additional mercury control solutions, not only would the intense schedule to meet the terms of the CWC accord have been delayed, but potentially, additional costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars may have been accrued.