Technology Trends - and Opportunities - in the Coal Ash Industry

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As one of the most abundant natural resources, coal has been utilized for energy in most parts of the world. The dependency of most industrial power plants on coal consumption has increased significantly for the past several years, bringing with it a slew of environmental issues resulting from improper waste disposal which has affected many lives. Emissions and other residues from these coal-fired power plants have had a huge impact on the global climate situation.

Major advancements in technology, however, have been extracting something good from coal utilization by creating innovative products that can be used in the construction of houses and other infrastructures. Substantial funding is one important consideration toward this goal.

The use of advanced emission control technologies is making an enormous impact to address the most common targeted pollutants. These technologies include but not limited to selective catalytic reduction and mercury control methods. One of the emerging trends includes the use of electrostatic precipitator or air cleaner, a device that removes particles from a flowing gas using the force of an induced electrostatic charge the flow of gases through the device, thus making it easier to remove fine particles like dust and smoke from the air vent or air stream. Powdered activated carbon (PAC) is the most established technology for mercury control.  Once injected into the flue gas, oxidized mercury contents are removed. PAC injection silo is developed to appropriately apply the needed carbon to stabilize the mercury content. Although mercury is much easier to remove in an FGD system, PAC remains to be the ultimate way to completely remove them.

Industrial wastes are now being converted to produce construction materials like cement and asphalt.  One of the growing benefits of coal-ash consumption is the segregation of fly ash which is extracted from plant exhaust gases by electrostatic precipitators.  It has pozzolanic properties that are useful in creating cement and concrete applications. Bottom ash, on the other hand, is a good replacement for aggregate. Although it is lighter than a conventional aggregate, it is considerably effective in lightweight concrete applications. Boiler slag is another product that is also being utilized as one of the raw ingredients for blasting grit and roofing granules.