Turning Ash into Concrete for Roads and Bridges

Coal ash is produced in abundance when coal is burned for energy, leaving power utilities with a lot of byproduct. Georgia Power, an electric subsidiary serving 2.7 million customers in the state, just found a way to get rid of tons of ash it has stored. The company is partnering with Eco Material Technologies to turn millions of tons of coal ash at Plant Bowen into concrete that will be used for bridges, roads, and buildings in Georgia. It’s currently installing the necessary infrastructure and ash removal is expected to begin by 2024. The company said it will excavate 600,000 tons of ash per year from the ash pond and landfill at Plant Bowen. The total amount of coal ash harvested for this project is anticipated to be 9 million tons. That’s 18,000,000,000 pounds, which can likely help make a whole lot of concrete. According to Physics Today, coal ash can be recycled into a porous, lightweight additive for concrete. Since it absorbs and desorbs water better than aggregates like shale and clay, it makes the concrete stronger by improving the curing process. Georgia Power said it already recycles 85% of all ash and gypsum. This accounts for over 90% of fly ash that it creates from operations making concrete production and other construction projects. But it said this project will be the single largest beneficial use project of its kind in the U.S. 

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