Partitioning of selected trace elements in coal combustion products from two coal-burning power plants in the United States
Samples of feed coal (FC), bottom ash (BA), economizer fly ash(EFA), and fly ash (FA) were collected from power plants in the Central Appalachian basin and Colorado Plateau to determine the partitioning of As, Cr, Hg, Pb, and Se in coal combustion products (CCPs). The Appalachian plant burns a high-sulfur (about 3.9 wt.%) bituminous coal from the Upper Pennsylvanian Pittsburgh coal bed and operates with electrostatic precipitators(ESPs), with flue gas temperatures of about 163 °C in the ESPs. At this plant, As, Pb, Hg, and Se have the greatest median concentrations in FA samples, compared to BA and EFA. A mass balance (not including the FGD process) suggests that the following percentages of trace elements are captured in FA: As (48%), Cr (58%), Pb (54%), Se (20%), and Hg (2%). The relatively high temperatures of the flue gas in the ESPs and low amounts of unburned C in FA (0.5% loss-on-ignition for FA) may have led to the low amount of Hg captured in FA.
The Colorado Plateau plant burns a blend of three low-S (about 0.74 wt.%) bituminous coals from the Upper Cretaceous Fruitland Formation and operates with fabric filters (FFs). Flue gas temperatures in the baghouses are about 104 °C. The elements As, Cr, Pb, Hg, and Se have the greatest median concentrations in the fine-grained fly ash product (FAP) produced by cyclone separators, compared to the other CCPs at this plant. The median concentration of Hg in FA (0.0983 ppm) at the Colorado Plateau plant is significantly higher than that for the Appalachian plant (0.0315 ppm); this higher concentration is related to the efficiency of FFs in Hg capture, the relatively low temperatures of flue gas in the baghouses (particularly in downstream compartments), and the amount of unburned C in FA (0.29% loss-on-ignition for FA).