Nanoporous 'sponge' removes mercury from offshore produced waters

Contaminated water resulting from offshore oil and gas platform drilling contains mercury and other toxic heavy metals. Mercury concentrations in these retrieved waters can be as high 2,000 parts per billion, therefore they need to be treated before they can be safely discharged to the environment. The complex mixture of constituents including salts and petroleum hydrocarbons presents a challenge for mercury removal using currently available conventional technologies.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a novel nanoporous sorbent thiol-SAMMS, or thiol-functionalized Self Assembled Monolayers on Mesoporous Supports, to specifically remove mercury and other contaminants such as cadmium and lead from produced waters and condensate liquids from natural gas. Working with a filtration equipment company in Texas, PNNL recently demonstrated that thiol-SAMMS was effective in removing more than 99 percent of mercury from gas condensate liquids containing approximately 800 ppb mercury. The thiol-SAMMS technology is a recipient of a R&D 100 award and recently received the 2006 Federal Laboratory Consortium award for successful technology transfer for commercial use. Steward Advanced Materials in Chattanooga, Tenn., is now licensed to commercially produce thiol-SAMMS.

SAMMSTM is a registered trademark.


Contact: Geoff Harvey
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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