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Capsule Report, Aqueous Mercury Treatment (38 pp, 1.1 MB) July 1997


Mercury can contaminate wastewater and the environment through several sources. One of the major consumptive users of mercury is the chlor-alkali industry through the production of various electrolytic cells. Other users of mercury include the electrical and electronics industry, explosives manufacturing, the photographic industry, chemical and petro-chemical industry and paint production. Mercury may also be present in a wastewater due to its occurrence as an incidental contaminant at trace levels in an industrial raw material. This report describes established technologies and innovative strategies for treating aqueous mercury. The information provided encompasses full-, pilot- and bench-scale treatment results as presented in the technical literature. This report also evaluates alternative technologies based upon: (1) governing physical and chemical principles; (2) key treatment parameters and (3) pretreatment requirements, performance, design considerations and economics, where applicable. This information can be useful for evaluating mercury treatment alternatives for industrial wastewater, groundwater and soil washing extract. Each of the mercury treatment technologies described in this report achieves different effluent mercury concentrations. The effectiveness of treatment provided by each type of technology depends upon the chemical nature and initial concentration of mercury, as well as, the presence of other constituents in the wastewater that may interfere with the treatment process. However, other factors, such as residuals management and cost, weigh heavily in selecting the appropriate treatment approach. Some of the technologies featured in the report include: precipitation, coagulation/co-precipitation, activated carbon adsorption, ion exchange, chemical reduction, membrane separation, biological treatment and membrane extraction.

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