Fly Ash for Hire

by Paul Tarricone, Asst. Ed.; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 10, Pg. 46-49

Document Type: Feature article


Each year, roughly 15 million tons of ash created by U.S. coal-fired powerplants is recycled. Most is used in concrete and other construction materials, such as structural fill, but utilities, industry, researchers and government are finding more uses for fly ash in paints, sealants, agricultural products, even golf balls. By recycling coal ash, energy suppliers, industry and the public sector have the potential to forge a lucrative alliance. In the typical scenario, a utility hoping to avoid the expense of shipping its ash to a landfill will turn it over to a construction materials supplier. The supplier gets a cheap, effective replacement for cement in concrete and passes the savings down to the contractor and government agency, such as the state DOT. Although just 25% of fly ash is recycled, the ultimate goal of industry groups is 100% reuse. First, there must be a change in the long-standing attitude that fly ash is a waste product that has to be disposed of, rather than a resource that should be recycled. Also, recycling can't be a financial burden on utilities. If storage is a problem or if a utility must incur high shipping cost, it may be more likely to opt for landfill disposal. The most obvious incentive for fly ash reuse is payment. Most utilities still give away their ash for free, but some are able to charge, and this trend may increase if more uses for ash are discovered.

Subject Headings: Recycling | Fly ash | Utilities | Construction materials | Ashes | Supply chain management | Mine wastes

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