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THE Coal Thread pt 3 (merged)

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby kmann » Fri 21 Aug 2009, 20:38:00

Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Thermometers?
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Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby Carlhole » Fri 21 Aug 2009, 20:55:21

Carlhole wrote:Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?


Ancient plants must have been extraordinarily good at sequestering mercury in coal.

...because, SPG explained, it follows that dinosaurs, mammals and birds, etc were thusly able to evolve in a mercury-diminished environment. After all, if mercury levels had remained more or less constant and significant in the environment, one would expect all succeeding species to have successfully adapted to them over the eons.

But since we evolved in a relatively mercury-free environment, the release of mercury through burning coal is now a problem for us and other animals - though I'm not sure how big a problem higher levels of mercury are for fish. Maybe fish don't care that much about it?

I suppose high levels of mercury could perhaps help save fish's bacon from human over-exploitation. Hmmm...

There isn't anything on the internet in answer to this question. Surely, someone must have studied this.
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Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby Carlhole » Fri 21 Aug 2009, 21:01:41

What the hell would ancient plants have wanted with mercury? Why would they sequester it?

Mercury doesn't sound like a planty kind of thing. I don't think modern plants want anything to do with it!
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Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby Carlhole » Fri 21 Aug 2009, 21:09:55

Maybe as the coal was forming over millions of years, it was somehow absorbing mercury from rock layers, like a sponge, due to some chemical process or filtering action?

Helium, too, maybe... Isn't it still a mystery as to where the helium comes from in coal beds? Maybe that's somehow absorbed by the coal.

I dunno... very puzzling.
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Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby smallpoxgirl » Fri 21 Aug 2009, 21:18:25

Carlhole wrote:What the hell would ancient plants have wanted with mercury? Why would they sequester it?

Mercury doesn't sound like a planty kind of thing. I don't think modern plants want anything to do with it!


More than you wanted to know probably: link
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Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby TheDude » Fri 21 Aug 2009, 21:28:58

MERCURY IN COAL: WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

Mercury released from coal during burning for energy production has become an issue of significant concern worldwide. Mercury is a natural component of coal that is released to the flue gas during combustion. Plant species that make up coal have varied over geologic time; however, dominant species were vascular plants with some structure that functioned similarly to leaves of today with stomata for gas exchange. Based on our work with present day species it is hypothesized that mercury present in coal was derived by plant assimilation from the atmosphere. This paper summarizes mercury concentrations measured in forest, wetland, desert, and grassland plant species as a function of air and soil mercury exposures and time.


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Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby Carlhole » Fri 21 Aug 2009, 22:00:40

Those are both good links.

I'm amazed that it was plants all along, the buggers.

Now, we're going to have to invent some mercury-eating nano-thing to clean up the mess, huh?
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Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby Rod_Cloutier » Fri 21 Aug 2009, 22:34:47

Modern people are far more poisoned than animals existing in the prehistoric past. When you think of daily exposure in the industrial world to things like carbon monoxide from cars, cyanide from second hand smoke, PCB's and a host of other novel chemicals ingested from anything packaged in plastic, bleaches from newsprint or paper, lead from archaic waterworks or decades of people burning leaded gasoline. Mercury is just one more.

I went to the beach recently and my wife scolded me for forgetting the sunblock and insect repellant. I told her that humans lived countless generations without either of them, but I was told that I was the one putting the kids health at risk from having no sunblock or repellant to keep the bugs at bay. God only knows what long term seasonal exposure to sunblock chemicals or to deet will have on human health, both are too 'novel' to have a long term exposure history yet.

I would expect that evolution has endowed us with some tolerance to background level's of certain poisons. I think its likely that most of us have enough poisons in our bodies now to kill any predatory animal that might be unlucky enough to actually eat someone.
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Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby TheDude » Fri 21 Aug 2009, 23:54:19

Carlhole wrote:Those are both good links.

I'm amazed that it was plants all along, the buggers.

Now, we're going to have to invent some mercury-eating nano-thing to clean up the mess, huh?


You and your cutting edge high tech solutions, I swear.

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Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby JohnDenver » Sat 22 Aug 2009, 00:24:08

Repent wrote:Modern people are far more poisoned than animals existing in the prehistoric past. When you think of daily exposure in the industrial world to things like carbon monoxide from cars, cyanide from second hand smoke, PCB's and a host of other novel chemicals ingested from anything packaged in plastic, bleaches from newsprint or paper, lead from archaic waterworks or decades of people burning leaded gasoline. Mercury is just one more.


Being totally poisoned isn't such a big deal. We're still setting records for longetivity:
Life expectancy reaches a new high
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Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby Carlhole » Sat 22 Aug 2009, 10:15:03

TheDude wrote:
Carlhole wrote:Those are both good links.

I'm amazed that it was plants all along, the buggers.

Now, we're going to have to invent some mercury-eating nano-thing to clean up the mess, huh?


You and your cutting edge high tech solutions, I swear.

Image


Your chart seems to indicate that one of the prime contributors to mercury in the environment came from volcanoes.

Ancient plants must have been extremely good at sequestering mercury. Because despite the increased frequency of large mercury-spewing, volcanic eruptions in the early history of life on Earth, plants were able to sweep it all up and bury it.

Mercury doesn't seem like it was such a big problem for plants and animals in the early days. Mercury appears to be a problem for mammals and birds only because they evolved in the relatively mercury-free environment created by plants.

How good are modern plants and algae at sequestering mercury? Plants use mercury for some damn reason and are very good at removing it from the environment. So why can't Synthetic Genomics create a super mercury-eating plant or algae species by enhancing the natural process plants have already developed?
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Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby Carlhole » Sat 22 Aug 2009, 10:47:13

I guess the link the SPG posted talks about this:

Due to the extreme consequences, environmental contamination with heavy metals, particularly lead and mercury, is a significant concern. Now faced with these overly extensive environmental problems, a cost-effective means of remediation pertinent to the contaminated areas must be found. There are a number of conventional remediation technologies which are employed to remediate environmental contamination with heavy metals such as solidification,
soil washing and permeable barriers. But a majority of these technologies are costly to implement and cause further disturbance to the already damaged environment.

Phytoremediation is evolving as a cost-effective alternative to high-energy, high-cost conventional methods. It is considered to be a “Green Revolution” in the field of innovative cleanup technologies.

3.1 What is Phytoremediation?

Phytoremediation is the use of green plants to clean-up contaminated hazardous waste sites. The idea of using metal-accumulating plants to remove heavy metals and other compounds was first introduced in 1983, but the concept has actually been implemented for the past 300 years on wastewater discharges [5]. A general, visual reference concerning plant-based mechanisms used to remediate the environment is shown in Figure 2.

Phytoremediation has the potential to clean an estimated 30,000 contaminated waste sites throughout the US according to the EPA’s Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation Liability Information System (CERCLIS) [20]. Sites included in this estimate are those that have either been owned or contaminated by: battery manufacturers, electroplating, metal finishing, and mining companies. Also included in the estimate are producers of solvents, coated glass, paints, leather, and chemicals [20]. Phytoremediation is aimed at providing an innovative, economical, and environmentally-friendly approach to removing toxic metals from hazardous waste sites [22].

The foundation of phytoremediation is built upon the microbial community, and the
contaminated soil/water environment [25]. Complex biological, physical, and chemical interactions that occur within the soil allow for the remediation of contaminated sites. Of major importance is the interaction that takes place in the soil adjacent to the roots, called the rhizosphere. It has been shown that the rhizosphere contains 10-100 times the number of microorganisms per gram than unvegetated soil. Plants exudate from their roots a variety of organic compounds that support the microbial community and facilitate the uptake of some metals [25]. The complex interactions among the roots, microbes, metals, and soil make phytoremediation a highly site-specific technology. The agronomic principles of each site must also be reviewed in order to accomplish an effective application of the technology [27].
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Re: Where did the mercury in coal originally come from?

Unread postby TheDude » Sat 22 Aug 2009, 13:18:45

My chart shows that the natural sinks for Hg work perfectly adequately, without the need for any exotic technology to be developed. Even modern industrial output shows a decline at the end of the 20th century, due to bans in use in fungicide, paints, etc: DOE - Fossil Energy: Mercury Emission Control R&D

I doubt the level of mercury globally has declined much over time, owing to its non-reactivity with other elements; it forms amalgams but doesn't bond, and most isotopes are stable.
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UQ expert's invention scores a clean coal coup

Unread postby TheAntiDoomer » Wed 09 Sep 2009, 07:46:52

http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/stor ... 02,00.html

A UNIVERSITY of Queensland scientist said yesterday he had successfully tested technology that delivers twice the power from coal while minimising greenhouse gas emissions.

The exciting breakthrough, which could provide a billion-dollar windfall for the state, may revolutionise the way the world uses coal, a university spokesman said.
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Re: UQ expert's invention scores a clean coal coup

Unread postby Tanada » Wed 09 Sep 2009, 12:09:32

Granted that Carnot cycle systems are inherently inefficient, most running around 38% max, that only makes this new technology 72% efficient, not 100%. Given that a Combined Cycle Turbine running on gassified coal can operate in the 68% efficiency range I smell a lot of hype attached to a new technology, not a world changing advance. If the article were a bit more forthcoming on how the carbon fuel cell is supposed to operate I would be a lot more comfortable even giving it that 4% advantage of CCGT.
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US encouraged to use mercury containing coal ash on crops

Unread postby Cabrone » Tue 22 Dec 2009, 06:13:51

EPA, USDA Encourage Farmers To Put Coal Ash That Contains Mercury And Arsenic On Crops

INDIANAPOLIS — The federal government is encouraging farmers to spread a chalky waste from coal-fired power plants on their fields to loosen and fertilize soil even as it considers regulating coal wastes for the first time.

The material is produced by power plant "scrubbers" that remove acid rain causing sulfur dioxide from plant emissions. A synthetic form of the mineral gypsum, it also contains mercury, arsenic, lead and other heavy metals.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says those toxic metals occur in only tiny amounts that pose no threat to crops, surface water or humans. But some environmentalists say too little is known about how the material affects crops, and ultimately human health, for the government to suggest that farmers use it on their land.

"Basically this is a leap into the unknown," said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. "This stuff has materials in it that we're trying to prevent entering the environment from coal-fired power plants and then to turn around and smear it across ag lands raises some real questions."


Shouldn't they at least be doing some research on this before unleashing it on the public?

Just glad its not my food being grown on this stuff (as far as I know).

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Re: US encouraged to use mercury containing coal ash on crops

Unread postby GASMON » Tue 22 Dec 2009, 06:37:18

Someone has to start "The die off" !!!!!!!!!!

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Re: US encouraged to use mercury containing coal ash on crops

Unread postby rangerone314 » Tue 22 Dec 2009, 07:45:13

Cabrone wrote:Shouldn't they at least be doing some research on this before unleashing it on the public? Just glad its not my food being grown on this stuff (as far as I know): Link
Dang it.... you thought the Republicans were bad... At least THEY might have tested it on the Third World first.
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Re: US encouraged to use mercury containing coal ash on crops

Unread postby Ferretlover » Tue 22 Dec 2009, 08:37:13

Cabrone wrote:EPA, USDA Encourage Farmers To Put Coal Ash That Contains Mercury And Arsenic On Crops
--snip--
"Basically this is a leap into the unknown," said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. "This stuff has materials in it that we're trying to prevent entering the environment from coal-fired power plants and then to turn around and smear it across ag lands raises some real questions."

Gotta love these "Blind Studies!" Gosh, I hope that plenty of people are affected so we get some goooooooood data! {sarcasm off]
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Re: US encouraged to use mercury containing coal ash on crops

Unread postby hillsidedigger » Tue 22 Dec 2009, 09:19:23

I suppose it might be spread on non-food tree farms but then the paper or lumber from such trees might have high levels of mercury and arsenic.

I think it would be better to just flush the coal-ash down the rivers like they do in China and Tennessee..

:o
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