Coal ash survey results reflecting growing harvested material inputs

The American Coal Ash Association Production and Use Survey indicates 2022 fly ash consumption in concrete at 10.9 million tons, 1 million tons off from the prior year, while year over year use of all coal combustion products (CCP) in cement production increased 8 percent, to just over 6 million tons. Concrete producers and consumers indicated a desire to use more fly ash, but several regional markets continued to be affected by shifting supply dynamics associated with coal-fueled power plant closures. Concrete and cement production accounted for more than one-third of the 46.8 million tons of the CCP that were beneficially used in 2022, up 1 percent from the prior year. Shipments to the other major construction market end use, wallboard-grade synthetic gypsum derived from flue gas desulphurization, totaled 11.3 million tons, a 4 percent dip from 2021.

Landfill-extracted, high carbon content coal ash at its first stage of proprietary processing.

The ACAA survey finds total CCP production of 75.2 million tons, down from 77.3 million tons in 2021. Among year-over-year trends, it notes especially the trajectory of harvesting, where impounded or landfilled, high carbon content ash traditionally viewed with limited recycling prospects now enjoys commercial viability due to market and processing technology tailwinds. ACAA determined that just over 4 million tons of previously disposed ash was utilized in a variety of applications in 2022, including concrete-grade fly ash and cement kiln raw feed.

“Harvested ash utilization volumes now equal 8.7 percent of the volume of ash recycled from current power plant operations,” says ACAA Executive Director Thomas Adams. “The rapidly increasing utilization of harvested coal combustion products shows that beneficial use markets are adapting to the decline in coal-fueled electricity generation in the United States. New logistics and technology strategies are being deployed to ensure these valuable resources remain available for safe and productive use. We must continue to support these practices that safely conserve natural resources while dramatically reducing the need for landfills.

“As America’s electricity grid changes, the coal ash beneficial use industry is evolving as well. As we work diligently to utilize the nearly half 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.” Increasing beneficial use requires ash marketers to ensure that products are consistent and available when customers need them, he adds, requiring large investments in technology and logistics.