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Unlike many heavy metals, mercury is a long-range air and water pollutant whose load on the environment is increasing. According to published reports, a major source of atmospheric mercury is the burning of coal for electrical power generation. However, certain crude oils may contain up to several hundred ng/g of total mercury. Accurate analysis of total mercury in crude oil is the first step in determining the value of a crude oil and one's ability to process the material within the refinery, while generating finished products. This paper details the use of Combustion Cold Vapor Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (CVAAS) technology for the analysis of crude samples and distillation cuts. The instrument described in the report is one of several instrument methods currently being evaluated by groups in industry and government. The use of a boat-inlet sample introduction system allows crude oil and other types of material to be analyzed without acid digestion. The strengths and weaknesses of the combustion-CVAAS technique, along with a year's worth of operating experience, will be presented from the user's perspective.
mercury, crude oil, combustion CVAAS
Advanced Research Associate, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, Paulsboro, New Jersey