A Novel Approach To Processing Coal Combustion Ash And Organic Bio-Solids - Introduction And Background - Preprint 09-110

Mensah-Biney, R.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 14
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2009
The NC State University Minerals Research Laboratory (MRL) and Waste Reduction Partners (WRP) of the Land of Sky Regional Council joined efforts in 2000 to initiate a technically sound and practical program for the management of high-volume coal combustion by-products (CCBs) in North Carolina. The accumulation of CCBs from coal burning boilers throughout the state of North Carolina posed a substantial storage problem, and the area was overripe for an effective management program, which would be environmentally sustainable. In particular, the public utility generators had filled storage ponds on their properties, and the storage overload had grown to critical proportions. Much the same situation existed for paper mill biosolids, which were stored on site in landfill cells along with daily output of CCBs from the mill boilers. A conversion process via the patented pyro-process12 (US Patent No. 5,342,442) to produce synthetic light weight aggregates (LWA) from CCBs and paper mill sludge was conceived to process large quantities of both these waste materials. MRL and WRP initiated and formed a consortium that brought together academia, private industry and state agencies to evaluate the production of LWA by the pyro-process. The industry partners included representatives from the power companies, industrial ash generators, expediters for coal ash products, as well as concrete block manufacturers. It was important to welcome interested parties from not only the western North Carolina area and other parts of the state but also from neighboring states including Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia. Membership of this consortium evolved during the intervening years to include the following participants and supporters: Progress Energy Carolinas; Duke Energy; Santee Cooper; Full Circle Solutions; Land-of-Sky Regional Council; NC Department of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance; Ecusta Business Development Center; Blue Ridge Paper Products; Jackson Paper and Manufacturing Company; Miller Perlite; Appalachian Products; General Shale Brick; Metromont Materials; Small Business Technology Development Center of the University of North Carolina system and North Carolina State University The initial development program conducted at the Minerals Research Laboratory (MRL) was to formulate an acceptable LWA product, which fulfilled user specifications for light weight concrete block and structural concrete application. Support work and program coordination efforts were furnished by retired technical volunteers in WRP. The work advanced steadily, using proven technologies well established in the mineral industry, to generate a very satisfactory LWA. The consortium then concluded that a more comprehensive CCB conversion program would have more appeal for full scale manufacture and commercialization, if a variety of products from CCB separation were generated. This product assortment would include bottom ash, low carbon fly ash, recovered carbon of high purity, as well as the synthetic LWA. The bottom ash would serve the concrete block market, the fly ash was in demand for ready-mix concrete, and the high carbon product could be pelletized and used as a fuel for reburn or by the steel industry, and the LWA was a sought-after component for light weight concrete applications. After scouting all these potential markets and finding them to be viable, the consortium then inaugurated an integrated pilot plant program for the CCB separation and conversion. The plan was organized in three (3) parts: (1) Phase I ? bench scale evaluation studies (2) Phase II continuous pilot plant evaluation and (3) Phase III ? conceptual commercial plant design including marketing efforts and attraction of business entrepreneurs to build a full scale manufacturing plant. Phase II would serve to validate the process in a continuous mode and produce substantial quantities of products for preliminary marketing efforts and for demonstration-of-use purposes. The consortium agreed to the name, CAROLINA ASH PRODUCTS, (CAP), for the integrated pilot plant program. The products generated might be designated with the CAP label as: bottom ash would be named CAP Granules, low carbon fly ash would become CAP Ash, recovered high carbon product would be CAP Carbon, and LWA would have the name CAP Stone. Phase II of the program processed 20 tons (18 t) of ponded ash from Progress Energy storage at a rate of 600 lb (271 kg) of raw ash per hour with favorable results. PRELIMINARY STUDIES Prior to committing laboratory research and development effort as well as support and coordination activities to this program, it was necessary to determine (1) the level of need for a freshly launched CCB reutilization program in this state and (2) what degree of versatility was necessary for such a process. State agency records and a survey of recent boiler operations indicated that in the state of North Carolina at least 77 facilities manage CCBs from their boiler operations. Despite continuing development efforts in more eastern parts of the state, the use of CCBs for commercial applications has not increased to a level which alleviates the need to store vast quantities in private monofills on the generator?s property. More than 1.25 million tons (1.13 million t) of CCBs are landfilled in NC annually, with 300,000 tons (271,985 t) per year generated in western NC alone. Many different boiler types, which span both very old units and those that are modern and efficient, were to be found. These included stoker-fired units, pulverized coal boilers, slag-tap furnaces, and fluidized bed combustion boilers covering a range of sizes. Any systems designed to separate CCB components from all these sources and convert them to useful secondary products would need broad processing latitude and flexibility. Up to the present there has been a paucity of research done in the western part of the state to find productive alternatives to storage in landfills. With tipping fees in our largest landfill now approaching $40 per ton ($44 per t) and escalating transportation fees (about $200 per truckload up to 40 tons, traveling a distance of 25 miles), the problem has become urgent both economically and ecologically. A well-designed, integrated wet process for CCB separation into value-added products had much potential to be less expensive than landfilling as well as to provide saleable materials with acceptable profit margins. These preliminary investigations also revealed that other major waste streams, in particular paper mill sludge and municipal and animal waste biosolids were important candidates for priority attention. Since these biosolids could furnish the organic component of a synthetic LWA product, they could be consumed as part of the same program. This added interest value to a growing list of partners to support and participate in the program.
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