Sorbent Activation Process (SAP)

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Sorbent Activation Process (SAP) is an EPRI technology conceived as an alternative to the commercially purchased Powdered Activated Carbon (PAC) for mercury control. The concept was developed by EPRI and The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Initially, E1E personnel were brought into the project to develop the material handling portion of the process to handle and feed pulverized coal to the field pilot unit. During the field pilot unit testing, E1E personnel were instrumental in solving several engineering and control issues with the pilot unit, as well as developing and documenting the process envelope for successful operation. The pilot-scale test program was successfully completed with the pilot unit demonstrating production of 20 to 40 pounds per hour of activated carbon mercury sorbent material.

Sorbent Activation Process (SAP)

Following the successful pilot-scale demonstration of the technology, E1E was directly involved in the scale-up design of the next SAP demonstration unit; a unit capable of producing 150 pounds per hour of SAP activated carbon product. E1E personnel were solely responsible for the design of the material handling portion of the next SAP demonstration unit, as well as the product handling equipment. E1E personnel were involved in the scale-up design of the SAP reactor and the controls for the demonstration unit.

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During operation of the SAP Demonstration, unit one of the challenges encountered was the need to add halogen dopant to the product sorbent material to enhance mercury capture. E1E personnel designed an addition system for a commercially available liquid halogen salt solution. The proposed system was added to the SAP unit and successfully demonstrated the addition of halogen dopants to the product sorbent material significantly increasing mercury capture performance.


Following completion of the planned testing program, the SAP demonstration unit was handed off to the host utility which operated the unit continuously for more than 60 days. E1E personnel were instrumental in the hand-off of the unit to the plant personnel, creating much of the operation manuals, training materials that were used by plant personnel. Improvements made by E1E to the automation and controls of all aspects of the SAP demonstration unit were integral in the successful operation of the unit by utility personnel.


The final demonstration of the SAP concept was a commercially sized system capable of treating a 780 MW unit firing Texas Lignite coal. The commercial demonstration unit was designed to capable of producing over 1000 pounds per hour of activated carbon mercury control sorbent material. E1E again designed and constructed the material and product handling portions of the SAP unit. E1E’s design of the product handling equipment involved a novel solution to separating the SAP sorbent product from the process gas stream and handling of the process gas stream. The solution was an early design hurdle encountered in the process of scaling up the process to full commercial sizing.

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During operation of the commercial demonstration unit a challenge was encountered with accumulation of ash within the SAP reactor due to the higher ash content of the Texas Lignite feed stock. E1E was instrumental in the design of an ash sweeping system to keep the SAP reactor from filling with ash deposits during operation.


Ultimately as a result of several years of involvement and effort by E1E, the commercial demonstration of the SAP process was a success. The unit demonstrated production of over 1,000 pounds per hour of sorbent material and successfully treated the entire host unit to compliance with the mercury limit under the EPA Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) rule. The unit operated continuously for over 90 days of operation without any unplanned stoppages.  


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