Optimization of a Novel Setup for an On-Line Study of Elemental Mercury Adsorption by Cold-Vapor Atomic Absorption Spectrometry

Mohammad Javad Assari, Abbas Rezaee, Ahmad Jonidi Jafari, Abdolrahman Bahrami


Background: The objective of this work was developing a simple and stable time-based on-line setup for assessing the potential of mercury (Hg) vapor adsorption of the commercial sorbents used in air sampling and control operation followed by cold vapor atomic absorption spectrometry (CVAAS).

Methods: A special designed separation chamber was used where reduction of the injected Hg (II) solution took place. Purge gas passes through this chamber resulting to a prompt release of mercury vapor, purging into the adsorbent that regulated at the desired adsorption temperature. After sorbent saturation, in order to study the adsorption parameters of sorbents (activated carbon and bone char) such as breakthrough time (BTT), and adsorptive capacity, mercury gas stream was passed through the sorbents, directly transport to the CVAAS.

Results: Preliminary experiments concerning the reductant solution showed that SnCl2 offers higher stability than NaBH4. Around the loading range 0.125-2.5 ml min−1 of 100 µg l-1 Hg(II) solution, a linear calibration curve with the equation peak area=0.134; loading flow=-0.017 and a correlation coefficient r=0.996 was obtained, and the detection limit was improved up to cL=1µg l-1. The relative standard deviation of five measurements of lowest flow loading of Hg (II) was RSD=2.8%. The significant differences were observed in the breakthrough time and mercury adsorptive capacity between activated carbon and bone char (P=0.010).

Conclusion: This novel setup is suitable for an on-line study of elemental mercury adsorption, determination of breakthrough time and adsorption capacity, and because of its stable performance during all experiments; it can be applied to the time based studies.


Mercury; Vapor generation; Adsorption; Separation; Cold vapor atomic absorption; Spectrometry

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