A close up of bricks being placed by a construction worker
Heyl Patterson

Surprising Products Made With Fly Ash

A close up of bricks being placed by a construction worker

When coal is burned in power plants, it leaves behind different types of ash. This ash is one of the most copious types of industrial waste the U.S. generates and can contain contaminants, which is why the EPA regulates it

However, one type of coal ash – the fine, powdery type of ash known as fly ash – contains silica, aluminum, and calcium, making it reusable and even beneficial for other industrial applications. Below are some common and not-so-common fly ash products.

Common Uses of Fly Ash

The use of coal fly ash has both environmental and economic benefits. First, it contains minerals we would typically get from mining the Earth’s virgin resources. Reusing this byproduct also reduces the amount of waste produced when burning coal. Materials scientists have also found that fly ash can make other industrial products stronger and more durable, giving us more reasons to reuse it. 

Fly Ash Concrete

The most common use of this ash is in fly ash concrete. Adding fly ash to concrete decreases the need for water use and increases the material’s durability, strength, and workability. Fly ash concrete is also a greener option because it allows manufacturers to use less cement in the mixture. Cement is a major contributor to CO2 emissions, a greenhouse gas.


Fly ash is also used in construction materials like bricks, lowering the amount of cement required, reducing the need for other natural resources, and even lowering CO2 emissions. This process also increases the bricks’ strength, density, and stability, so they require less mortar and labor during construction.

Road Base 

The geopolymers used in road bases also benefit from the use of fly ash for strength and longevity. Using fly ash helps create materials that are less susceptible to cracking or warping in extreme temperatures, making it a great stabilizer for both sub-base soil and the road base itself.

Surprising Uses of Fly Ash

The uses of fly ash go far beyond fly ash concrete and the construction industry in general. Its nutrient and mineral composition make it a great recycled resource for some less well-known applications.


Fly ash can be used as a soil amendment, providing essential nutrients to plants and minerals that enhance soil fertility to improve plant growth and water retention capacity. It can even change the soil’s texture to help improve the way water flows through sandy and clay soils and balance out pH levels.

Soil amended with fly ash can also trap carbon in the Earth to reduce CO2 emissions.

Wastewater Treatment

Its porosity and chemical composition also make fly ash a viable means of wastewater treatment. Fly ash geopolymers can act as magnets for water pollutants, from organic compounds to fluoride. These impurities bind to porous fly ash, which is heavy, and therefore sink to the bottom of a water supply for easier removal.

High-Tech Devices

Fly ash is a source of rare earth elements that are costly and inefficient to mine but are essential in the production of devices like smartphones, electric vehicles, and wind turbines. Flash-heating fly ash at extremely high temperatures breaks open the minuscule spheres that contain the metals, allowing us to extract them without mining.

State-of-the-Art Machinery for Fly Ash Collection

The uses of fly ash are made possible not just by the material’s innate properties but also by the sophisticated processing techniques used to handle it.

Heyl Patterson’s state-of-the-art Dryers & Coolers and Calciners for fly ash processing can be customized to meet a variety of specifications and applications. They accommodate even difficult-to-handle materials by allowing for adjustable retention time for precise temperature and moisture control.

Once considered waste, fly ash can now be transformed into a valuable resource that benefits multiple industries and our environment, thanks to the right equipment. 

To learn more about our products and services, contact our team today.