NEWS RELEASE                                                                                                    OCTOBER 2012

Billion Dollar Annual Market for Mercury Reduction

Suppliers of hardware and consumables to reduce mercury from stack gases will benefit from a world market which will grow over the next decade from less than $200 million/yr to over $1 billion/yr. This is the prediction in the McIlvaine Mercury Air Reduction Markets.

The market for mercury control for waste-to-energy plants is growing steadily and there are few variables which could drastically alter the forecasts. However, the waste-to-energy market is small in comparison to the power plant market. This market is much more difficult to predict.

The market for mercury control in coal-fired power plants is subject to major variables including:

  • Timing
  • Approach

Timing: Some U.S. power plants are already reducing mercury emissions based on state regulations and on a federal subsidy for refined coal. Regulations requiring mercury reduction by all power plants has been promulgated, but there are some delays in implementation. Similar regulations have also been promulgated for industrial boilers and cement plants. But they are also subject to some uncertainties.

Regulations in other countries are under consideration, but none have as yet promulgated regulations which would require extensive mercury reduction.

Approach: The technology envisioned by U.S. EPA is primarily activated carbon injection combined with fabric filters. This would entail a capital investment for U.S. utilities, industrial boilers and cement plants of over $1 billion. It would also require annual activated carbon purchases of more than $600 million. In anticipation of this large market for activated carbon a number of suppliers have increased capacity.

An alternative to this approach is the use of halogenated compounds to convert the mercury to a soluble form which can be captured in downstream scrubbers. This approach now appears to be sufficiently efficient and economical to be applied to many of the eastern bituminous coal-fired boilers.

Bromine has proven to be a better halogen than chorine for this application. There is now competition among three large bromine companies to capture a share of the market. The companies are ICl, Albemarle and Chemtura.

Chemtura has invested more than $22 million in recent years to optimize its bromine facilities in Arkansas. Chemtura also obtains bromine from a site near the Dead Sea in the Middle East.

Longer term, China could become the largest market for mercury reduction chemicals. This will create an import opportunity.The supply of bromine in China has declined significantly of late due to the faster than expected decline in manufacturing by Chinese companies.

Bromine manufacturing in China borders on economically unfeasible levels because the concentration of bromine fell from 0.3 grams per liter to 0.2-0.18 grams per liter, compared to 10-12 grams per liter in the Dead Sea.

For more information on Mercury Air Reduction Markets, click on: