The Lehigh Permanente cement plant announced Friday it is using new technology to substantially reduce its mercury emissions.
The activated carbon injection system Lehigh Permanente installed in April and began using last month cuts emissions by 90 percent, plant manager Henrik Wesseling said during a news conference at the Cypress Hotel in Cupertino. That’s important, he said, because the Environmental Protection Agency will begin imposing tougher emission standards in 2013.
"We are the first cement plant in California using this progressive technology to proactively reduce our mercury emissions," Wesseling said.
The new system uses carbon to absorb mercury released from limestone during the cementing process and drop almost all of it back into the cement. "The activated carbon has the ability to basically act like a sponge or a magnet and attract those mercury elements which are then attached to the activated carbon particle," said Wesseling.
The EPA’s new standards will limit cement companies’ mercury emissions to 55lbs/1Mt of clinker. Wesseling said the new system ensures that the plant, which produces about half of the cement used in the Bay Area, meets the new standards.