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Safe mercury storage
   
  Participating organisations: The Spanish National Center for Metallurgical Research (CENIM) and the CTNDM
Duration: 2011- 2012
   
 
The MERSADE (MERcury SAfety Deposit) project was established on the basis of Minas de Almadén y Arrayanes’s experience with mercury and actively and responsibly anticipated the search for solutions to the problem of excess mercury in the European Union due to the steady abandonment of its use and the mercury exports ban. These circumstances defined the two main aims of the project:
   
a)
To build a "MERSADE 50/50" prototype for the safe storage of 50 tonnes of metallic mercury for a 50-year period, which would guarantee zero emissions once it was charged. It is to be fitted with passive safety barriers, a permanent and remote surveillance system and an immediate intervention plan, if necessary.

This storage option makes it possible to keep a pure metal (99.99% Hg purity) in safe conditions of isolation from the biosphere and available for possible future use at a minimum cost.
 
MERSADE
 
b)
To develop a stabilisation and micro-encapsulation technique for mercury and waste containing mercury through the transformation of metal into mercury sulphide (STABILISATION) and its subsequent inclusion in a sulphur polymer concrete or matrix (MICRO-ENCAPSULATION). The end product is a solid with excellent mechanical resistance, durability in aggressive physical and chemical environments and mercury levels in leachates far below the acceptance limits of a hazardous waste tip.

Should the final decision so require, this solution would allow the conversion of the metal into its original form in nature, i.e. mercury sulphide or cinnabar, with a stony consistency, turning it into an artificial rock.
 

The National Technological Centre for Mercury Decontamination is currently working on the engineering design of a demonstration plant for 2.5 t of Hg/day using this technique, a service we hope to offer to Spanish, European and International industry and society.

All the scientific and technical support developed in this project is available for consultation upon request.

For further information, please log on to the project website at: www.mersade.eu

 
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