A method for capturing and reducing the mercury content of an industrial flue gas such as that produced in the combustion of a fossil fuel or solid waste adds a chelating agent, such as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) or other similar compounds like HEDTA, DTPA and/or NTA, to the flue gas being scrubbed in a wet scrubber used in the industrial process. The chelating agent prevents the reduction of oxidized mercury to elemental mercury, thereby increasing the mercury removal efficiency of the wet scrubber. Exemplary tests on inlet and outlet mercury concentration in an industrial flue gas were performed without and with EDTA addition. Without EDTA, mercury removal totaled 42%. With EDTA, mercury removal increased to 71%. The invention may be readily adapted to known wet scrubber systems and it specifically provides for the removal of unwanted mercury both by supplying S.sup.2- ions to convert Hg.sup.2+ ions into mercuric sulfide (HgS) and by supplying a chelating agent to sequester other ions, including but not limited to Fe.sup.2+ ions, which could otherwise induce the unwanted reduction of Hg.sup.2+ to the form, Hg.sup.0.
The subject matter of the present invention was developed under a research contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Contract No. DE-FC22-94PC94251, and under a grant agreement with the Ohio Coal Development Office (OCDO), Grant Agreement No. CDO/D-922-13. The governments of the United States and Ohio have certain rights in the invention.