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  Technical Report, Advances in Encapsulation Technologies for the Management of Mercury-Contaminated Hazardous Wastes (EPA/600/R-02/081) August 2002

Although industrial and commercial uses of mercury have been curtailed in recent times, there is a demonstrated need for the development of reliable hazardous waste management techniques because of ongoing hazardous waste generation and historic operations that have led to significant contamination. The focus of this article is on the current state of encapsulation technologies and materials being used to immobilize elemental mercury, mercury-containing debris, and other mercury-contaminated wastes, soils, or sludges.

This report summarizes the range of encapsulation materials used in bench-scale, pilot-scale, and full-scale applications for mercury-containing wastes. Several studies have been completed regarding the application of sulfur polymer stabilization/solidification, chemically bonded phosphate ceramic encapsulation, and polyethylene encapsulation. Other encapsulation technologies or materials reported in the literature or under development include asphalt, polyester resins, synthetic elastomers, polysiloxane, sol-gels (e.g., polycerams), and Dolocrete. The objective of these encapsulation methods is to physically immobilize hazardous wastes to prevent contact with leaching agents such as water. These methods may also include a stabilization step to chemically fix mercury into a highly insoluble form. Economic information relating to the use of these materials is provided, along with available vendor information. Future technology development and research needs are also discussed.


Paul Randall

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