Distribution of mercury in in-situ versus feed coal in Indiana

Status Start Date End Date Locations
completed Oct 1, 2016 Sep 30, 2017 All Counties
Director: Maria Mastalerz
Other Researchers: Agnieszka Drobniak Phil Ames, LaBraun Hampton
Funding: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) - - USGS - No Specific Program
Issue: Better understanding of Hg and other trace elements content in the feed coal is needed to better predict Hg emissions and plan for the pending environmental regulations. In a recent USGS survey of priorities in Hg studies of US coals, the Illinois Basin has been identified as a top candidate, because of its cost advantage and proximity to power stations (Allan Kolker, personal communication, May 2016). Furthermore, Hg concentrations in the feed coal were emphasized as a very important target of the future Hg study. In the proposed project we will work closely with USGS personnel to both reanalyze the existing trace element data and acquire new data from Indiana’s part of the Illinois Basin.
Objective: Specifically, the objectives of this project are as follows: 1) Data entry – updating trace element database with a special emphasis on mercury concentrations We will refine the existing trace element database and update it with additional data obtained from coal companies and power plants, putting emphasis on washed coal. 2) Mapping Hg distribution in major coal beds in Indiana An updated database will be used to map Hg distribution in major coal beds in Indiana. 3) Identifying locations of the new sources of Hg data in in-situ and feed coals: boreholes, coal mines, and power plants Maps of Hg distribution will be used to identify areas that would need additional data. Existing mines and power plants will be approached for a possibility of obtaining new samples of feed coal. 4) Collection and analyses of new coal samples – New samples of coal will be collected and sent for analysis of coal quality (proximate, ultimate analysis) and trace elements, including Hg. Splits of the samples will be analyzed for maceral composition and vitrinite reflectance. 5) Collaboration with USGS personnel on incorporating our data into the USGS HG study – During the entire project duration, we will be collaborating with USGS personnel, and Allan Kolker as the Project Leader of the Mercury project. The collaboration will include discussions, joint field work, and complementary analysis.
Approach: The project will include four tasks: Task 1 – Updating trace element database – month 1-2 Task 2 – Mapping Hg distribution in the major coal beds in Indiana – month 3-5 Task 3 – Collecting new samples and sample analysis – month 4-9 Task 4 – Data interpretation – month 10-12
Products: The project will deliver an updated database of trace elements in Indiana coal that will be available from IGS. This database together with the updated maps of trace elements will be available on-line. All this material will be also incorporated into a USGS project on Hg in the Illinois Basin coals
Benefits: The project will result in a new evaluation of mercury concentrations in Indiana coals and will expand our understanding of the potential for pre-combustion Hg reduction. As such, this information will be valuable both for coal mining and for utilities. Our results will also be included in a USGS evaluation of Hg in the whole Illinois Basin.