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I learned about red mercury while researching the red deposits found on buildings and other structures in coastal South Carolina. The deposits appear to be chemical as opposed to red algae, so I looked at substances that could be formed from interactions between releases from International Paper (which releases obscene levels of atmospheric contaminants, as opposed to dumping them in water, which is tightly regulated) and the recently-defunct Georgetown Steel mill. Given that the International Paper plume releases around 50 pounds of mercury into the air each year, while a great deal of iron and sulfur compounds come from both facilities, I thought it worthwhile to investigate cinnabar as a possible identity for the deposit. Cinnabar or vermillion, HgS, can be formed from an interaction between elemental mercury and sulfur, in the presence of iron and in an acidic environment. Cinnabar is red (although it darkens over time in the sun), it's mercury... some may call it 'red mercury'. For those of you in the area who are interested in testing for cinnabar yourself, one positive test for the compound is that it burns with a blue flame (scrape it off and don't burn buildings). But I digress, as the pollution is old ongoing news... red mercury is hot in the science webgroups as an alleged compound used to fuse tritium-deuterium in a fusion device (it's a matter of semantics to not call it a 'bomb'), and was theoretically under development in Iraq. There are a host of other explanations of what 'red mercury' is. Take a look...

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