Fort Martin Project Stars in Video

Mackenzie Johnson, as seen in the W.L. Gore video.

October 15, 2019

It might seem hard to see any connection between weatherproof athletic gear and the removal of mercury from power plant emissions.

That’s precisely why the W.L. Gore company spent several days filming a video to highlight the  company’s special partnership with our Fort Martin Power Plant.

Several years ago, Gore – best known for its waterproof, breathable GORETEX ® fabric – found that the unique characteristics that make its products perfect for running, hiking, skiing and hunting apparel also had potential to remove mercury from fossil fuel waste streams. After testing, Gore needed to find a large-scale commercial power plant willing to try it.

That’s where FirstEnergy and Fort Martin in Maidsville, W.Va., came in.

“At the time, we were evaluating systems to help us meet new federal mercury air toxics standards, and the Gore technology was a very attractive option,” said Fort Martin Maintenance Engineer Mackenzie Johnson. “The system could be installed within our existing scrubber. There were no chemical additives involved, and no moving parts.”

Gore technology was installed in Fort Martin Unit 1 in 2014, and in Unit 2 in 2016. Each installation consisted of thousands of yards of specialized mercury-absorbing fabric in large modules stacked five-deep, each layer made up of about 400 modules. But the plant didn’t get just a new system – FirstEnergy and Gore developed a close working relationship.

Gore modules being installed in Fort Martin Unit 1 in 2014.

“Gore even has its own test pilot unit right here on the seventh floor of our absorber, where a split stream of flue gas is taken to measure mercury removal and perform various tests,” said Mackenzie.

It’s that kind of partnership Gore was looking to illustrate in the video, which was produced specifically for the company’s Capabilities Center in Newark, Del. Part corporate museum and part interactive science exhibition, the center is where Gore conducts meetings with potential partners and for employee business units. Gore is expanding into new business areas, with fabric applications developed for electrical components, pharmaceutical and medical applications, filtration, and much more. The experience with FirstEnergy – one of four partnerships featured in the video – is the kind of effort Gore wants to encourage in employees and potential partners.

Gore modules being installed in Fort Martin Unit 1 in 2014.

“Gore has technicians here on the Fort Martin site at least four days a week,” Mackenzie notes.

The Gore technicians regularly check mercury content in fabric layers to get a sense of how well the modules are working. “Based on that information,” Mackenzie notes, “we can determine future layer replacements or shuffle modules to maximize performance.”

The ongoing relationship with FirstEnergy also has enabled Gore to develop a new generation of mercury absorbent material that is more efficient and more resilient.