The LIFE+ SOREME project is based on the results of the MERCSORB project (“Single state production from waste tyres of the best existing sorbent for the removal of mercury from gas stream: sulphur impregnated carbon”) funded by the Europan Commision within the FP6 Co-operative research projects – Horizontal research activities involving SMEs – Contract 032245. The conclusion of that project defined the sorbent production at laboratory level and the design and a preliminary implementation of a project prototype.

The SOREME project will demonstrate the real functioning of the innovative sorbent demonstrating its mercury absorption capacity, by optimising and demonstrating the global functioning of the plant and the innovative sorbent continuous production, through tests at laboratory, semi-industrial and industrial level.

The conclusion of the SOREME project defined the sorbent production at laboratory level and the design and a preliminary implementation of a project prototype. MERCSORB project produced the two following main results:

  1. design and preliminary implementation of a project prototype
  2. not continuous sorbent production at laboratory level without carrying out any real tests of the mercury absorption capacity of the MERCSORB sorbent at any type of level.

The SOREME project has the main objective to demonstrate the real functioning of the innovative sorbent demonstrating its mercury absorption capacity:

  • by optimising and demonstrating first the global real functioning of the plant (ACTION B1) and the innovative sorbent continuous production (ACTION B2).
  • by carrying out then many different tests of mercury absorption first at laboratory level (ACTION B3), then at semi-industrial level (ACTION B4) and at the end at industrial level (ACTION B5).

The SOREME project has to start where the MERCSORB project ended without any type of overlapping. The project will demonstrate the use of the innovative sorbent developed in the mentioned research project to reduce mercury emissions from different industrial production cycles below current levels reducing European societal & health costs by over €485 million while delivering €80 million p.a. in end user savings. This market opportunity is worth over €50 million pa in the EC alone with a global opportunity worth over €100 million pa and is growing.

The project is fully in line with the 2011 Life Priority “Chemicals”: development and demonstration of techniques reducing the impacts of mercury on the environment, including through redesigned processes and products. Every year over 2,000 tons of mercury are released though air emissions into the environment globally, 342 t of this being from Europe. Mercury released to the environment is through biological processes into converted methyl mercury (MeHg), a bio accumulative neurotoxin, a neurotoxin that even at low levels can cause serious learning difficulties in the young. Recent research has also linked it with possible harmful effects on the cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems. Elemental mercury is insoluble in water and cannot be captured effectively by wet scrubbers, so it must be captured with solid sorbents. Sulphur impregnated activated carbon is the best mercury sorbent currently available, however it is very expensive (€7-00 to €12-00/kg) and so most organisations user cheaper but less effective non impregnated activated carbon (€3-00 to €6-50/kg).

This project will demonstrate the use of a sorbent constituted of high quality sulphur impregnated activated carbon(S-AC) at a lower cost than non impregnated activated carbon. The project sorbent has the following environmental advantages:

  • The raw material has a ‘negative cost’ since we will be paid a disposal/gate fee of €1 for each tyre which provides a clear cost advantage over alternative sources of material for activated carbon production.
  • The innovative project sorbent is obtained by a process which is a net generator of electricity since a diesel like oil and a light combustible gas stream are by-products of the one step activation process.
  • High quality of S-AC product. The Sulphur impregnated activated carbon used in this project absorbs more mercury than that S-AC produced by multistep processes since it does not suffer the problem of pores being blocked during the impregnation process.
  • High Hg loadings compared with non impregnated AC. Not only does this increase performance but it also means a smaller volume needs to be dealt with. After use activated carbon can be reactivated, land filled or when mixed with fly ash sold as for construction purposes. A lower volume of AC means lower reactivation, disposal costs and ensures fly ash is suitable as an aggregate removing the need for landfilling.

The added value of the SOREME project is evidenced by the following limits of the traditional mercury removal by using sulphur impregnated activated carbon:

  • Raw material costs, even though raw materials such as coconut shells, husks and nuts are appear inexpensive seasonal variations mean that it is hard to consistently source material of the required quality. When AC is made from coal only very high quality Bituminous coal can be used, this material is in sort supply globally.
  • Existing manufacturing processes require a high temperature carbonisation step, an activation step and finally an impregnation step involving handling a hazardous material (elemental sulphur). These multiple unit operations require large amounts of energy and long residence times. A similar picture emerges for existing pyrolysis techniques can reduce raw material costs by utilising waste materials however they still incur costs associated with multiple high temperature steps.
  • Impregnation with sulphur can often lead to blocking of pores thus reducing the surface area and the efficiency of mercury removal. SOREME will have a high Community added value, as a result of its high environmental and trans-national character, thanks to the extensive use of advanced technology, which will assist in overcoming the geographical and cultural barriers preventing technical progress in the filtering and environmental technologies. It will also ensure that the problems of this environmental topic of the SOREME project is properly defined and will facilitate the efficient diffusion of the research results to potential users. Air borne mercury pollution is no respecter of national boarders. As stated Community Strategy Concerning Mercury (2005), cooperation between countries and an international approach is essential to reducing mercury pollution.

By working at a European level this project can create both the enabling technologies and a distribution network required to service the needs of all end users. Moreover operating at a pan European level will enable economies of scale and more rapid market penetration. This will be vital for the project to maintain a competitive position and to allow the project partners to take advantage of export opportunities. In addition to reduction in mercury emissions as a result of using SOREME the fact that SOREME is made by recycling tyres as opposed to manufacturing activated carbon for virgin materials leads to the following savings: – Displacement of activated carbon that would have come from bitumous coal or carbonising coconut. 86,000 tonnes pa 295,000 tonnes pa – Recycling of tyres 8 million pa 28 million pa. – CO2 reduction compared to tyre derived fuel use. 25,500 tonnes p.a. 86,700 tonnes p.a.