Method for transforming mercury into a safe solid material patented

Spanish scientists at CSIC have patented a procedure for the safe and permanent storage of liquid mercury. The procedure allows transforming the liquid mercury into a solid material, a polymeric concrete that prevents mercury leaching into environment.

Pictured, two examples of the polymeric concrete obtained. On March 2011 comes into force the new Community Regulation that prohibits the liquid mercury exportation and any use of it in industrial processes. The new regulation will oblige to paralyze all processes in which mercury is involved and to dismantle mercury storage facilities.

It has been estimated that Europe has stored around hundreds of tons of liquid mercury, which cannot be used any more.

Alternatives for this risky material are either the storage in a safe place or the treatment in order to transform the liquid mercury in a non dangerous product.

The last option is the one proposed by a scientific team at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Metalúrgicas del CSIC. Félix Lopez, research professor at CSIC, explains that the process developed by his team allows transformation of mercury into Mercury sulphide, which can be afterwards added to a sulphur polymeric concrete. The final product can be safely stored or used in construction.

Mayasa (Minas de Almaden y Arrayanes), a Spanish company with a long experience  in mining, is negotiating with the CSIC the commercial application of the new method.