Atmospheric emissions of mercury from Australian point sources

Peter F. Nelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    45 Citations (Scopus)


    The UN Global Mercury Assessment (GMA) estimates that atmospheric emissions of mercury from Australian stationary combustion sources were 97.0 tonnes for the year of 1995. This is more than 90% of the estimated emissions from stationary combustion for the whole of North America, and seems abnormally high for a country with a population of around 20 million, in spite of the fact that most of Australia's stationary energy supply is provided by coal. It is also significantly larger than previous estimates of mercury emissions from Australian sources. New estimates of Australian mercury emissions from stationary energy sources, based on both a top down and bottom up approach, are presented. These estimates can be reconciled for black coal fired power stations, but suggest that the bottom up approach (the Australian National Pollutant Inventory) significantly under-estimates emissions from brown coal fired plant, if mercury capture efficiencies in these plants are low, as observed for lignite-fired plant. The major uncertainties in these estimates are the coal mercury content in coals burnt in Australian power stations, and the mercury capture efficiency in particulate control devices used at these stations. Based on these estimates, Australian emissions of mercury from stationary energy are currently 2-8 tonnes/year, significantly lower than the GMA estimate.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1717-1724
    Number of pages8
    JournalAtmospheric Environment
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


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