A catalyst for the oxidation of heavy metal contaminants, especially mercury (Hg), in an effluent stream is presented. The catalyst facilitates removal of mercury through the oxidation of elemental Hg into mercury (II) moieties. The active component of the catalyst is partially combusted coal, or "Thief" carbon, which can be pre-treated with a halogen. An untreated Thief carbon catalyst can be self-promoting in the presence of an effluent gas streams entrained with a halogen.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to the employer-employee relationship between the Government and the inventors who are U.S. Department of Energy employees at the National Energy Technology Laboratory, Pittsburgh, Pa.