Logistics challenges temper fly ash consumption, CCP recycling rates

Sources: American Coal Ash Association, Farmington Hills, Mich.; CP staff

Supply dynamics in key regional markets, primarily linked to 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; use of all CCP grades in cement production dropped to 6.4 million tons, off 26 percent from 2017 levels.

“As coal ash production declines, beneficial use markets are adopting new logistics and technology strategies to ensure these valuable resources remain available for safe and productive use,” says American Coal Ash Association 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.”

Improving CCP recycling metrics requires ash marketers to ensure that products are consistent and available when customers need them, 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.”