Soil Treatment Albemarle Introduces Technology for Mercury Remediation
Albemarle Corporation has recently launched a new technology – Merclok that can capture mercury from soil and mining waste. The technology is non-hazardous for workers who use the recommended personal protective equipment and is also safe for the ecological environment.
Charlotte/USA – Albemarle Corporation has recently unveiled a breakthrough product that captures mercury from soil and mining waste, helping to remove this harmful element from the food chain. Merclok is a soil treatment for mercury remediation. Known in the industry as an amendment, it cost-effectively captures mercury in soil, mining waste and, through in-ground treatment, groundwater over the long term, capturing the potent and highly mobile neurotoxin.
"As a values-driven company, we pride ourselves on innovating products that minimize negative impacts to the environment and surrounding communities," said Mark de Boer, vice president of Sustainability, Albemarle. "Our new Merclok technology is another proof point in our efforts for making the world safe and sustainable."
Mercury and mercury compounds are prevalent around power, chemical, and some manufacturing plants as well as many gold mines and mercury mines. It affects humans who consume seafood or have occupational exposure, including more than one in 1000 children in subsistence fishing populations. Different forms of mercury can have different effects on people's nervous, digestive, and immune systems, and on the lungs, kidneys, skin, and eyes, but the mercury found in seafood is the most toxic. (World Health Organization)
Elemental mercury (or quicksilver) is difficult to contain and expensive to dispose of, and when not contained it dissolves and volatilizes, spreading the environmental, health and safety hazard. As mercury spreads in the environment, it can be transformed into methylmercury (the most toxic form of mercury) by bacteria. Methylmercury is responsible for bioaccumulation of mercury in organisms such as fish, which makes them harmful when consumed. Therefore, solutions for immobilizing elemental mercury and reducing methylmercury in the environment are needed.
Merclok sequesters elemental and ionic mercury in the environment by capturing and stabilizing the mercury, thus reducing leachability by more than 99 %. It can reduce methylmercury concentration in treated media by over 99 %. These results are verified with standard testing methods and field trials monitoring contaminated media leachates and water. Merclok offers rapid capture at low dosage rates and long-term stabilization of mercury.
"Mercury is known as quicksilver for a reason," said Jon Miller, Research and Technology advisor, Albemarle. "It's dangerously mobile, working its way through soil, water, air, into the food chain, and into our tissues and nervous system. Merclok immobilizes the poison, meaning it's locked down to avoid harm in the environment or to humans."
Merclok can be applied to contaminated media using existing remediation techniques, including in-situ mechanical blending, and direct-push injection. It can also be injected to form permeable reactive groundwater barriers. It is non-hazardous to workers who handle the product with the recommended personal protective equipment, and it is safe for the ecological environment when used as intended. Merclok will be manufactured and sold by Albemarle Amendments, a wholly owned subsidiary of Albemarle Corporation.