A process for the removal of mercury from coal prior to combustion is disclosed. The process is based on use of microorganisms to oxidize iron, sulfur and other species binding mercury within the coal, followed by volatilization of mercury by the microorganisms. The microorganisms are from a class of iron and/or sulfur oxidizing bacteria. The process involves contacting coal with the bacteria in a batch or continuous manner. The mercury is first solubilized from the coal, followed by microbial reduction to elemental mercury, which is stripped off by sparging gas and captured by a mercury recovery unit, giving mercury-free coal. The mercury can be recovered in pure form from the sorbents via additional processing.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
This invention was made with United States Government support under Contract No. DE-AC05-00OR22725 between the United States Department of Energy and U.T. Battelle, LLC. The United States Government has certain rights in this invention.