Date of Award

1-1-2009

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Don, Jarlen

Abstract

Mercury is a serious hazard to humans, mammals and fish, which when emitted into the atmosphere reaches back to the earth. Coal-fired plants in the U.S. emit mercury upon the burning of coal in the particulate, oxidized and elemental state. Of these, elemental mercury is the most difficult to capture. U.S. coal-fired plants emit approximately 48 tons of mercury per year. Based on the U.S. EPA Clean Air Mercury Rule, these emissions need to be capped by 90%. This project deals with the Development of Bamboo Derived Sorbents for the capture of elemental mercury in gas phase. Raw bamboo is used to process sorbents using carbonization, activation and acidulation techniques. These sorbents are tested in a Batch Test, which includes a mercury permeation assembly, sampling bags, and uses nitrogen as a carrier gas. Many tests are conducted on sorbent samples with varying masses, samples with the presence or absence of skin material found on the bamboo stem along with various treatments, and varying initial concentrations of mercury. Other studies conducted also include Three-Point Bending tests for structural integrity, Surface Area Measurements, and Scanning Electron Microscopy for microstructure studies. Results and analyses of these sorbents depict successful capture of mercury in nitrogen atmosphere. Treatments such as carbon dioxide activation and hydrochloric acid functionalization are very effective in enhancing mercury adsorption. This project acts as a stepping stone for the development of bamboo derived material. Major recommendations include the optimization of the sorbents for adsorption properties, and the scaling up of experiments. Eventually, a bamboo derived sorbent could be applied in coal-fired plants on a large scale for the capture of mercury.

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