Mercury Emissions from Industrial Sources – Status Quo and Prospects (FKZ 3716 53 302 2)

Mercury and its compounds have negative impacts on human health and the environment. The use of mercury and its emissions are regulated by international and European conventions and regulations like OSPAR Convention, UNECE Protocol on Heavy Metals, EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the United Nations Minamata Convention, expected to enter into force in 2017.  

Currently used mercury control techniques lead to separation of mercury from relevant industry sectors like large combustion plants, ferrous metal and non-ferrous metal processing as well as from cement industry. However, mercury contaminated waste and by-products are often re-used as secondary raw materials in other processes. Examples are gypsum originating from waste gas cleaning in power plants, used in cement and gypsum industry, fly ash from power plants used in cement industry, and filter dust from cement clinker production used for cement manufacturing. These practices reduce local mercury emissions but lead to new emissions elsewhere or spread mercury widely with the products. Long-term sinks for mercury do not exist for separating mercury permanently from environment cycles.

For these reasons the research project is carried out to assess and document the specific release behavior for relevant industrial sources and sectors, considering mercury transfer into products. Starting with a literature research, the current state of knowledge is compiled regarding emissions and applied control techniques of various sectors. On this basis mercury control techniques are assessed regarding their applicability in other sectors.

Besides latest results from scientific research and technical development, economic issues will be considered. The combination of technical and economic issues results in proposals for a National Strategy on Mercury from Industrial Sources in Germany.

Where information gaps cannot be filled during the project, they are documented. Based on the project results, recommendations are drawn up for future research priorities.

Environment Ministry on Mercury Convention


Christian Tebert

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