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Trace Elements--Emissions from Coal Combustion and Gasification

AUTHOR: Lee Clarke and Lesley Sloss
DATE: July 1992
PAGES: 111

Trace elements enter the atmosphere from natural sources such as the soil, seawater, and volcanic eruptions. Human activities, such as power generation waste incineration, and the industrial and commercial sectors, also release substantial quantities of certain elements to the atmosphere. This report reviews the origin of trace elements in coal and their partitioning through coal-fired combustion, gasification processes, and downstream pollution control equipment. The resulting emissions and their effects on the environment are assessed.

The following questions are addressed:

  • How important is coal as a source of trace element emissions?
  • Which elements released from coal are of most environmental concern?
  • How do different combustion and gasification systems influence trace element emissions?
  • How do downstream pollution control devices affect emissions?
  • Can current technologies reduce trace element emissions to acceptable levels?

Currently, little legislation applies directly to emissions from coal utilisation, but it is unlikely that this source will remain exempt from regulation in the future. An integrated approach to pollution control should ensure that reductions in emissions to the atmosphere do not result in increased pollution from solid or liquid waste.