By Michael Puente

Just beyond Chicago’s southern border is Whiting, one of the smallest cities in Indiana with about 5,000 residents. But you’d never know it these days. That’s because thousands of construction workers descend upon the “Little City on the Lake” every day to head to the BP Refinery. The facility’s 100 years old now and is getting a multi-billion dollar makeover. There’s a lot at stake for BP’s finances and it’s environmental cred…

… BP says it’s dedicating about $1 billion to cut down on mercury and other pollutants. That means one of every four dollars in the expansion project is for water treatment.

One reason for the big outlay is that BP is forced to used equipment that’s unique or nearly so. For example, it’s brine treatment unit is the first of its kind to be used in the U.S., and only the second worldwide. BP is also testing merging technologies – technologies that are not fully developed.

It’s getting help from Purdue University Calumet’s Water Institute in Hammond and Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago’s western suburbs. Dr. Cristina Negri researches pollution controls for Argonne. She’s helping to find technologies for BP to lower the amount of mercury that’s released into Lake Michigan…

NEGRI: The problem there is the concentrations are very tiny, very small. The technologies that were available had really were not been tested at those concentrations.

Negri says the nice thing is BP is taking on large-scale real world tests at the refinery. If the mercury pollution controls work, they might help other industries, or even city water treatment facilities release less mercury into the environment.

NEGRI: I think you won’t find anywhere else a study that’s so broad as far as mercury goes. You’re talking between us and Purdue we tested some 40 some technologies. It’s a lot…

Continue reading at WBEZ…

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Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
Energy Markets
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