In the last hundred years, mankind has found a way to reuse and recycle almost everything. From old electronics to milk cartons, our solutions for taming the waste we generate have grown exponentially. It’s no surprise then that we have found ways to reuse even waste products, which are generated in the hundreds of pounds a day. One such product in particular is known as fly ash.
By definition, fly ash is a by-product residue resulting from the combustion of coal. It exists as fine particles, which are carried out of coal furnaces by flue gasses. The exact makeup of fly ash differs and is tied directly to the composition of the coal being burned. Generally, however, it is made from aluminum oxide, calcium oxide, and silicon dioxide. It may also contain traces of boron, selenium, mercury, lead, cobalt, cadmium, manganese, and other minerals.
Before modern air pollution control standards were implemented, fly ash was allowed to disperse freely into the atmosphere. Today, however, this sooty powder must be collected and reused or disposed of in the proper location. Due to the sheer amounts of fly ash generated, something had to be done with it. For this reason mankind came up with literally dozens of re-purposing options for this coal waste.
One of the biggest uses for fly ash is in the manufacturing of cement and asphalt. Fly ash in concrete is used as a pozzolan, or material which helps ensure the setting of the concrete. Additionally it adds some strength and weather resistance to the concrete it’s mixed with. It can also be added to concrete and asphalt in the place of sand as a less expensive material option.
Ice Melting Agent
Fly ash also has some loose application for de-icing roadways, bridges, parking structures, sidewalks, and more. Additionally, it is sometimes used on rivers, which have frozen over and need to melt and keep moving.
Another common use for fly ash is in agricultural areas. It’s used for soil stabilization, agricultural stakes, cattle feeders, and more.
Fly ash is handy for the quick creation of embankments and other dam structures. Often these are used during temporary times of construction or in emergencies to help prevent water overflow and flooding.
Recently, a company announced they had formulated a brick that was 50% Class C fly ash. Fly ash bricks were actually shown to outperform traditional bricks in trial testing of strength, durability, and cost effectiveness.
Fly ash is an abundant material with many possible uses. Perhaps the future will hold even more repurposing opportunities for this natural by-product. If you would like to know more about fly ash transportation or the transportation of other industrial minerals, contact us today.