Monday, February 28, 2011

Fine particles of coal ash may be used in concrete

A professor at Missouri University S&T is looking to pave the way to stronger concrete while simultaneously keeping fly ash out of landfills.

Fly ash is the smallest particle found in coal ash. It is a byproduct of coal-burning power plants and has been used in concrete since the construction of Hoover Dam. But Dr. Jeffery Volz is developing a formula that will double the amount of fly ash used in concrete.

Although this will decrease carbon dioxide in the air, there is concern for heavy metals leaching out of the concrete into the water supply.

“When we put it in concrete, the chemistry is actually altered and if there are any trace elements, heavy metals, mercury, things like that they are all bound into the concrete. They don’t leach out of the concrete so it’s even better than putting it in a landfill plus we’re using a waste product which is going to cut down on cost which is going to cut down cost to Missouri residents,” Volz said.

Volz says adding fly ash to concrete would decrease the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. For every one pound of cement produced, one pound of carbon dioxide is also released.

“The roads we drive on, the buildings we live in, the bridges we drive over, the dams that hold back the water, the distribution systems for getting us water; all built out of concrete so it’s very much a staple in our civilization and if we can find a way to make it greener then it’s just going to make it that much better,” Volz said.

Volz is still developing the best formula and type of fly ash to use in concrete. The Missouri Department of Transportation has expressed an interest in using the newly developed recipe.

Katie Long, KRCU


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