The production of cement klinker and lime in rotary kilns is responsible for 10.7% of mercury emissions to air (3,337 kg) according to a recent study.

Most of the mercury and mercury compounds pass through the kiln and preheater; they are only partly adsorbed by the raw gas dust, depending on the temperature of the waste gas. For these reasons, monitoring and controlling emissions of mercury to air is important and steps are being taken in several countries to impose emission limits. In the European Union BREF guidance for Cement kilns (CLM BREF), mercury has a BAT-associated emission level of 0.05 mg/Nm3 (50 µg/Nm3) for the half-hour average.

New monitoring technology

Gasmet Technologies, a Finnish manufacturer of emission monitoring instruments has launched a new continuous mercury emission monitoring system (CMM) based on the cold vapour atomic fluorescence (CVAF) measurement principle. The analyser is integrated in an air conditioned cabinet together with a vacuum pump, an automatic calibrator and a nitrogen gas generator. The sample gas is extracted from the process duct with a dilution probe and heated sample line specially designed for sampling mercury from harsh process conditions. The analyser has a detection limit of 0.02 µg/Nm3 and the lowest measuring range for total mercury concentration is 0 – 10 µg/Nm3 when a dilution rate of 1:50 is used in the sample extraction probe.

Since the CMM analyser employs a CVAF spectrometer, the sensitivity of the instrument is excellent and the main source of measurement uncertainty that needs to be addressed by the analyser and the system design is the quenching effect; where other gases present in the sample, such as O2 and H2O, lower the fluorescence signal due to mercury atoms. In order to avoid these adverse effects, a dilution sampling approach is used and the dilution gas is synthetic nitrogen formed in a nitrogen generator inside the analyser cabinet. As the detection limit of the analyser is much lower than would be needed to monitor mercury in low µg/Nm3 ranges, dilution does not compromise the sensitivity of the instrument. On the other hand, dilution lowers the quenching effect by lowering the concentration of interfering gases by a factor of 50. Measuring mercury in a gas consisting of 98% nitrogen guarantees consistent measurement regardless of the fuel or emission abatement techniques used in the plant.