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Shifting production, use patterns temper fly ash, CCP recycling rates

Supply dynamics in key regional markets, paralleling coal-fueled power plant closures, spurred an 11 percent year over year decline in fly ash consumption in concrete, according to the American Coal Ash Association’s (ACAA) just-released “Production and Use Survey” for 2018. Concrete-grade ash accounted for 12.5 million of the 59.4 million tons of coal combustion products (CCP) beneficially used last year, the latter figure down 8 percent or 9.1 million tons from the 2017 ACAA survey. Use of all grades of CCP in cement production declined 26 percent in 2018, to 6.4 million tons.

FLY ASH PRODUCTION, CONSUMPTION
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SOURCE: ACAA 2018 Production and Use Survey

“As coal ash production declines, markets are adopting new logistics and technology strategies to ensure these valuable resources remain available for safe and productive use,” says ACAA Executive Director Thomas Adams. “Closures of coal-fueled power plants are disrupting product distribution channels, but ash marketers are adapting quickly and enormous volumes of material remain available for beneficial use. We look forward to continuing to grow these practices that conserve natural resources, make products that are more durable, and dramatically reduce the need for landfills.”

Increasing beneficial use metrics requires ash marketers to ensure that products are consistent and available when customers need them, he adds, compelling large investments in technology and logistics. Concurrently, beneficial use stakeholders are actively deploying technologies and strategies for harvesting coal ash materials that were previously disposed.

“As America’s electricity grid changes, the coal ash beneficial use industry is evolving as well,” Adams affirms. “As we work diligently to utilize the 40 percent of coal combustion products that are still disposed annually, our industry is also taking significant strides in developing strategies for improving the quality and availability of these materials.”