This invention is directed to a process for forming a sorbent-metal complex. The process includes oxidizing a sorbent precursor and contacting the sorbent precursor with a metallic species. The process further includes chemically reacting the sorbent precursor and the metallic species, thereby forming a sorbent-metal complex. In one particular aspect of the invention, at least a portion of the sorbent precursor is transformed into sorbent particles during the oxidation step. These sorbent particles then are contacted with the metallic species and chemically reacted with the metallic species, thereby forming a sorbent-metal complex. Another aspect of the invention is directed to a process for forming a sorbent metal complex in a combustion system. The process includes introducing a sorbent precursor into a combustion system and subjecting the sorbent precursor to an elevated temperature sufficient to oxidize the sorbent precursor and transform the sorbent precursor into sorbent particles. The process further includes contacting the sorbent particles with a metallic species and exposing the sorbent particles and the metallic species to a complex-forming temperature whereby the metallic species reacts with the sorbent particles thereby forming a sorbent-metal complex under UV irradiation.