G&T’s fly ash repurposed for construction, energy industries

Fly ash produced at Escalante (shown) and Craig stations is being recycled for a variety of construction applications.

Fly ash produced at Escalante (shown) and Craig stations is being recycled for a variety of construction applications.

A byproduct of burning coal at Tri-State’s baseload power plants is a residual material known as fly ash, which is captured from the exhaust of the boilers and then must be transported to nearby landfills to be treated as waste.

However, over the past 20 years, Tri-State and other electric utilities, working with specialized companies, have steadily increased the amount of coal combustion products that have become ingredients in the production of concrete, wallboard, mortars, stuccos, blocks, bricks, shingles and a variety of other building materials.

According to statistics from a major marketer of coal combustion products, the use of fly ash and other coal combustion products have increased more than 50 percent in the last decade.

Steve Powell, Tri-State’s senior fuels engineer, said Tri-State’s fly ash sales were good in 2012, owing in large part to improved demand from the construction industry. Powell explained that much of the association’s fly ash was being used as an additive to concrete for highway paving. “The fly ash mixed with the concrete makes it stronger and more resistant to roadway deterioration during freeze and thaw cycles,” he said.

“Two other business sectors that are showing increased demand for our fly ash are residential and commercial construction and the oil and gas industry, which uses down hole cements that bond steel casing into their drill holes,” explained Powell.

Fly ash added to concrete for road construction has proven to produce road surfaces that last longer between pavings.

Fly ash added to concrete for road construction has proven to produce road surfaces that last longer between pavings.

Craig and Escalante stations both produce a high quality fly ash that has been railed as far away as Missouri this spring for a variety of industrial applications.

In 2012, Craig Station sold approximately 125,000 tons of the coal byproduct, which amounts to about  52 percent of the total fly ash produced in units 1 and 2 last year.

At Escalante Station, approximately 71,000 tons of fly ash was sold in 2012, which comprised nearly 56 percent of the annual fly ash output at the power plant.

The fly ash sales at the plants help reduce disposal costs and as a cement substitute, this additive also helps to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are inherent in concrete production.

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