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Removing Hg from soil

By Chemical Engineering |

An in-situ method that removes mercury from soil, sludge and other industrial waste has been patented (U.S. Patent 7 589 248) by scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL; Upton, N.Y.; http://www.bnl.gov). The method shows promise as a simple and inexpensive way to decontaminate large areas tainted with low levels of Hg, where current Hg-extraction methods are expensive and impractical, says BNL. In BNL’s ISMS (in situ mercury stabilization) method, a porous rod containing a sulfur-based reagent (such as sulfur polymer cement, according to the patent), is inserted directly into the contaminated soil. Mercury then migrates to the rod — driven by the greater vapor pressure of Hg, as shown by laboratory testing — where it reacts with sulfur to form a stabilized mercury sulfide. After sufficient time, the rod can be removed for safe disposal at a hazardous waste facility. So far, the method has been demonstrated in laboratory trials with Hg-contaminated sand. After 50 days, the Hg concentration in a 3-in.-dia. area around the rod is found to be 42 times lower than at the beginning of the test. Work is now underway to scale up to larger areas. BNL believes a single rod will eventually be able to remediate a “very…
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