A small pile of fly ash
Heyl Patterson

How Proper Equipment Increases Safety in Drying Coal Ash Reuse

A small pile of fly ash

Coal ash, also known as coal combustion residuals (CCR), is a by-product of burning coal in power plants. Comprised of fly ash, bottom ash, and boiler slag, it predominantly contains non-radioactive minerals. However, it also contains traces of toxic elements like arsenic, mercury, and lead. Since approximately 45% of coal ash is recycled and beneficially reused in various industries, proper handling and processing are crucial for environmental safety and human health.

Environmental Benefits of Reusing Coal Ash

The beneficial reuse of coal ash conserves natural resources by substituting virgin materials and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The economic advantages include lower disposal costs and improved strength and durability of materials. Common applications range from substituting Portland cement in concrete production to its use in asphalt and wallboard production.

Surprising Uses and Applications for Coal Ash

Beyond the conventional uses mentioned above, coal fly ash finds utility across surprising domains. It is employed as a soil amendment in agriculture due to its nutrient content, improving soil fertility while aiding carbon capture. It acts as a pollutant magnet in wastewater treatment processes, enabling easy impurity removal. Its content of rare earth elements essential for high-tech devices like smartphones and electric vehicles makes fly ash a valuable resource.

The Risks Associated with Improper Coal Ash Disposal

Despite the benefits outlined above, improper handling or disposal can lead to significant risks to human health and the environment. Fly ash released into the environment can contaminate ecosystems, hinder crop growth, affect air quality, and degrade water quality through heavy metal leaching into groundwater aquifers, leading to respiratory problems and other health issues.

Importance of Specific Equipment for Coal Ash Processing

To address these challenges effectively while maximizing the benefits of fly ash reuse requires using the right equipment. Fluid bed dryers, rotary dryers, and calciners are pivotal in coal ash processing.

Fluid Bed Dryers

Fluid bed dryers stand out for their efficiency and capacity to handle various materials, including fly ash, bottom ash, and sludges. Custom-designed fluid bed dryers can accommodate specific applications considering factors like moisture content and material characteristics to ensure optimal drying.

Rotary Dryers

Rotary dryers are versatile equipment capable of handling a wide range of materials. They offer high heat and mass transfer rates, facilitating efficient drying and processing of coal ash.

Rotary Calciners

Rotary calciners serve multiple functions, from calcining to thermal desorptions. They use indirect heating technology, allowing for specific process atmospheres while preventing contamination from the heat source.

Ensuring Safety through Test Facilities and Pilot Plant Testing

Beyond using the proper equipment, safety in handling coal ash also involves accurate process testing.

CPEG’s pilot plant testing laboratory is equipped to determine optimal processing conditions for various applications. The lab facilitates pilot-scale testing for different processing equipment, ensuring that each piece of machinery performs optimally under real-world conditions.

Dealing with Hazardous Fly Ash Safely and Efficiently

The safe recovery of fly ash involves drying and de-carbonizing fly ash particles, producing high-quality products while minimizing environmental impact. This process reduces airborne fly ash, protecting human health, preventing environmental contamination, and transforming hazardous waste into a resource with environmental benefits.

The proper equipment is crucial in increasing safety during coal ash drying for reuse. With technological advancements by companies like Heyl Patterson Thermal Processing, the potential risks associated with coal ash can be effectively managed while maximizing its beneficial reuse in various industries. Contact us for more information.