Mercury in Eastern Kentucky coals: Geologic aspects and possible reduction strategies

James C. Hower, Cortland F. Eble, Jeffrey C. Quick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Mercury emissions from US coal-fired power plants will be regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) before the end of the decade. Because of this, the control of Hg in coal is important. Control is fundamentally based on the knowledge of the amounts of Hg in mined, beneficiated, and as-fired coal. Eastern Kentucky coals, on a reserve district level, have Hg contents similar to the USA average for coal at mines. Individual coals show greater variation at the bench scale, with Hg enrichment common in the top bench, often associated with enhanced levels of pyritic sulfur. Some of the variation between parts of eastern Kentucky is also based on the position relative to major faults. The Pine Mountain thrust fault appears to be responsible for elemental enrichment, including Hg, in coals on the footwall side of the thrust. Eastern Kentucky coals shipped to power plants in 1999, the year the USEPA requested coal quality information on coal deliveries, indicate that coals shipped from the region have 0.09 ppm Hg, compared to 0.10 ppm for all delivered coals in the USA. On an equal energy basis, and given equal concentrations of Hg, the high volatile bituminous coals from eastern Kentucky would emit less Hg than lower rank coals from other USA regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-236
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Coal Geology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 22 2005


  • Coal
  • Emissions
  • Geochemistry
  • Kentucky
  • Mercury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Geology
  • Economic Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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