Nation’s first full-scale mercury testing shows promise

ATLANTA – A test of an innovative new technology to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants is showing promise. The initial phase of the testing was successfully completed by ADA-Environmental Solutions (ADA-ES) at Southern Company’s Plant Gaston near Wilsonville, Ala.

Gaston is owned by Alabama Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company. Southern Company and Alabama Power were selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) to participate in the nation’s first full-scale program to test advanced mercury control technologies.

Results from the test show that mercury can be removed at rates between 80 percent and 85 percent when activated carbon is injected into the existing baghouse ash collection system. The high level of mercury control was achieved in a short test of seven days. Long-term testing would fully assess the cost and performance of the technology as well as its impacts on the operation of the entire generating plant. Additional testing also would be needed to determine if the amount of reductions can be sustained over longer periods and with other types of coals.

Environmental technology and chemical company ADA-ES, a subsidiary of Earth Sciences based in Littleton, Colorado, was chosen by NETL to conduct the test. ADA-ES will present the results of the test Aug. 22 at the joint Mega Symposium and Air and Waste Management Association’s Mercury Specialty Conference in Chicago. This conference is the premiere event in the nation to exchange information on pollution control technology development for the electric utility industry. The Mega Symposium is sponsored every two years by the Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

"This mercury control test is a significant first step, and we hope to learn more about how this technology performs over extended periods of time and with different coal sources,“ said Dr. Charles Goodman, senior vice president of research and environmental affairs for Southern Company. “We’re committed to finding the answers to these questions.”

Dr. Michael Durham, president of ADA-ES, said, “These results are exciting because our company has been working with NETL and EPRI for almost ten years to develop this process, and this first full-scale test confirms the technology’s potential. Our next three test sites will help determine the feasibility of activated carbon injection technology for wide-spread use on coal-fired boilers impacted by proposed EPA regulations.”

“Southern Company has a longstanding commitment to seek ways to produce energy more environmentally efficient while providing our customers with reliable and affordable electricity,” said Paul Bowers, president, Southern Company Generation and Energy Marketing. “Coal is a critical component of our nation’s energy supply options. And we want to be out front in making sure there are effective solutions for reducing emissions.”

Southern Company has invested more than $500 million in environmental controls and more than $360 million in research and development since in 1990 alone in pursuing its goal of cleaner energy.

Unit 3 of Plant Gaston, with a unique combination of a baghouse installed downstream of an electrostatic precipitator, is one of four test sites selected by NETL to test mercury control technology. Activated carbon is injected between the electrostatic precipitator and the baghouse, a configuration called TOXECON, an EPRI-patented technology. DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory is funding 70 percent of the $6.8 million project. The remaining funding and support is supplied by ADA-ES, Alabama Power, EPA, EPRI, Hamon Research-Cottrell, Norit Americas Inc., Ontario Power Generation, PG&E National Energy Group and Wisconsin Electric.

Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is a super-regional energy company with more than 32,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity in the Southeast. It is one of the largest producers of electricity in the U.S. Southern Company is the parent firm of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power, Savannah Electric, Southern Nuclear, Southern Company Generation and Energy Marketing, Southern Company Energy Solutions, Southern LINC and Southern Telecom. Southern Company brands are synonymous with excellent customer service, high reliability, and prices that are 15 percent below the national average. Alabama Power serves more than 1.3 million customers within the state.

ADA-Environmental Solutions is an environmental technology and specialty chemical company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado. The company brings 25 years of experience to improve profitability for electric power and industrial companies through proprietary products and systems that mitigate environmental impact while reducing operating costs. ADA-ES is a subsidiary of Earth Sciences, whose common stock trades on the OTCBB under the symbol ESCI.