Evaluating the fate of metals in air pollution control residues from coal-fired power plants.

Thorneloe SA, Kosson DS, Sanchez F, Garrabrants AC, Helms G
Environ Sci Technol. 2010 44 (19): 7351-6

PMID: 20806888 · DOI:10.1021/es1016558

Changes in emissions control at U.S. coal-fired power plants will shift metals content from the flue gas to the air pollution control (APC) residues. To determine the potential fate of metals that are captured through use of enhanced APC practices, the leaching behavior of 73 APC residues was characterized following the approach of the Leaching Environmental Assessment Framework. Materials were tested over pH conditions and liquid-solid ratios expected during management via land disposal or beneficial use. Leachate concentrations for most metals were highly variable over a range of coal rank, facility configurations, and APC residue types. Liquid-solid partitioning (equilibrium) as a function of pH showed significantly different leaching behavior for similar residue types and facility configurations. Within a facility, the leaching behavior of blended residues was shown to follow one of four characteristic patterns. Variability in metals leaching was greater than the variability in totals concentrations by several orders of magnitude, inferring that total content is not predictive of leaching behavior. The complex leaching behavior and lack of correlation to total contents indicates that release evaluation under likely field conditions is a better descriptor of environmental performance than totals content or linear partitioning approaches.

MeSH Terms (6)

Air Pollutants Air Pollution Coal Metals Power Plants United States

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