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End-Use Efficiency
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Coal Comb. Products
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 Coal Combustion Products

 
 Background


Note that the quantity and quality of CCPs may be affected by changes in the coal preparation practices. More information on coal preparation may be found under the topic "Improving Coal Preparation and Handling."

Being comprised of both organic and inorganic materials, the combustion of coal creates large quantities of fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag and flue gas desulfurization (FGD) material. The ash content of coal produced in the U.S. averages nearly nine percent, and the additional materials used in FGD processes are also substantial. Collectively, it is estimated that 131.1 million tons of these coal combustion products (CCPs) were produced in the U.S. in 2007, according to the annual surveys conducted by the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA). This makes CCPs the fourth largest volume mineral resource produced in the United States. The ACAA estimates that over 56 million tons of these CCPs found beneficial use in 2006, an overall utilization rate of nearly 43 percent.

It is well known that use of CCPs to displace portland cement avoids substantial CO2 emissions, both from the energy savings and from the limestone calcination avoided. The replacement of a ton of portland cement with a ton of fly ash avoids emissions of nearly a ton of CO2. Increasing CCP replacement of Portland cement represents the single largest CO2 emission reduction opportunity.

However, there are many other categories of CCP use, and many of these other uses also avoid the energy consumption and GHG emissions associated with production and use of other virgin materials. For example, there is an ever-increasing amount of synthetic gypsum  generated from flue gas desulfurization processes. In many cases this material can replace raw gypsum in industrial (i.e., wallboard manufacture) and agricultural applications. This can avoid the energy cost and emissions associated with the acquisition and use of raw gypsum. Other possible applications include use as road bed material or in the production of cement blocks. Although the CO2 tonnage savings from these other uses are likely to be less than those from cement displacement, they are collectively significant.

The Coal Combustion Products Partnership (C2P2) program is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the coal combustion products (CCPs) industry to help promote the beneficial use of CCPs and the environmental benefits that can result from this beneficial use. These environmental benefits include energy savings and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions from no longer needing to produce the virgin materials now displaced by CCPs.

The C2P2 initiative has a goal to increase the CCP utilization rate from 32 percent to 50 percent by 2011, and in doing so avoid the generation of 20 million tons of CO2 annually. To date, 43 utilities have become C2P2 partners, and 19 have pledged additional funding to help meet these goals.

Efforts by the Power Partners to recycle CCPs and therefore reduce the demand for cement also create large avoided GHG emissions. According to the utilities and power generators responding to the Power Partners survey, and as shown in the figure below, cumulative CO2 emissions avoided through 2005 totaled almost three million metric tons of CO2 relative to the 2000-2002 base-period average.

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 Power Partners Projects

Constellation Energy's innovative strategies and techniques greatly improved CCP management throughout the company by using a diverse mix of traditional and emerging alternatives. Implementing these strategies has increased ash utilization from less than 10 percent to more than 50 percent over the last 10 years.

Entergy utilized 86.2 percent  –  more than 466,000 tons  –  of the fly ash generated in its fossil plants in 2005. Entergy is developing a method for creating and registering emissions reduction credits that will monetize the GHG-emissions savings realized from this practice.

Exelon Power, Exelon’s business unit responsible for fossil operations, achieved an almost 100-percent reuse of CCPs from its fossil-generation stations in 2005. This included 100-percent reuse of nearly156,000 tons of ash products. These products were used to stabilize other waste streams and to reclaim retired anthracite coal mine sites. In 2005, virtually all of the approximately 24,500 tons of scrubber byproducts produced were used to stabilize other waste streams and to produce fertilizing agents. Since 2000, Exelon Power’s reuse of CCPs has avoided more than 500,000 tons of CO2.

Great River Energy (GRE) received national recognition for promoting the use and acceptance of CCPs. GRE received EPA’s "2006 Coal Combustion Products Partnership Overall Achievement Award” for its efforts to develop markets for fly ash, in which GRE partnered with more than 10 public and private organizations. GRE also received EPA’s “2006 WasteWise Beneficial Use Gold Achievement Award” for its beneficial use or sale of 501,300 tons of fly ash in 2005; 417,000 tons were sold for use in concrete production and the remaining ash was used for soil stabilization. GRE’s Coal Creek Station also used all 350,000 tons of generated bottom ash as structural ballast in the flue gas desulfurization (FGD) disposal unit along with fly ash.

Jacksonville Electric Authority avoided nearly 35,000 tons of CO2 emissions through the C2P2 program, with CCPs sold for use in cement production and road base applications.

Nebraska Public Power District avoided more than 120,000 tons of CO2 in 2005 through the use of fly ash to replace cement in concrete and for soil stabilization.

PNM Resources avoided more than 200,000 tons of CO2 emissions in 2005 by utilizing its fly ash in cement production and highway construction.

Santee Cooper, South Carolina's state-owned electric and water utility, increased its total ash utilization by more than 90,000 tons from 2004 to 2005. They provided 30,000 tons of fly ash for the $531 million Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge project in Charleston in 2005.

Tampa Electric Company has avoided more than 356,000 tons of CO2 emissions through its fly ash utilization efforts with the concrete manufacturing industry.

In 2004, TVA utilized 2.6 million metric tons (2.9 million tons) of CCPs, and in 2005 increased the figure by nearly seven percent, to 2.8 million metric tons (3.1 million tons).

We Energies, a subsidiary of Wisconsin Energy Corporation, utilizes approximately 100 percent of its fly ash emissions as a cement replacement in concrete products and for sludge stabilization. We Energies has avoided more than 336,000 tons of CO2 cement emissions through its fly ash utilization program.

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 References, Sources, and Other Useful Data


American Coal Ash Association (ACAA)
http://www.acaa-usa.org

The American Coal Ash Association (ACAA) is a not-for profit organization that promotes the beneficial use of coal combustion products. ACAA's mission is to advance the management and use of coal combustion products (CCPs) in ways that are technically sound, commercially competitive, and environmentally safe. To accomplish its mission, ACAA sponsors educational workshops and meetings on topics related to CCPs management and use and provides training to CCP managers and interested parties. ACAA also publishes technical reports, pamphlets, and documents that describe CCPs utilization and applications. ACAA holds an international symposium bi-annually where more than one hundred technical papers are presented by authors from around the world. Proceedings of these symposia are published through a cooperative agreement with the Electric Power Research Institute. This international cooperation has strengthened the awareness of the value and variety of uses for CCPs. 

Edison Electric Institute, “Coal Combustion Products Partnership” (part of the brochure on Power Partners: EEI Industry Initiatives)
http://www.iuep.org/download/ipp_03.pdf

Electric companies are partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other key stakeholders to inform potential users of the attributes and beneficial uses of CCPs and the obstacles preventing their use. This partnership targets generators and manufacturers and encourages them to increase the application of CCPs in their endeavors.

Electric Power Research Institute, “2008 Portfolio: 78 Coal Combustion Product Use”
http://mydocs.epri.com/docs/Portfolio/PDF/2008_P078.pdf

This program builds on years of ongoing investigation to sustain the use and value of coal combustion products (CCPs), whose properties can be impacted by the growing application of NOx, mercury, SO2 and SO3 emission controls. The program also focuses on finding new uses for gypsum products and non-spec Class C and Class F fly ash, with the larger goal of achieving a CCP use rate of 50% within a decade, greatly reducing disposal costs and creating new revenue opportunities as a result. To those ends, the program collaborates with organizations such as the American Coal Ash Association to educate government agencies and engineers on the environmental and engineering benefits of using CCPs.

Electric Power Research Institute, “Utilization of Coal Combustion By-Products in Agriculture and Land Reclamation,” Product ID #TR-112746 (November 1999)
http://my.epri.com/portal/server.pt?Abstract_id=TR-112746

A four-year (1994-98) project on using blends of coal combustion by-products (CCPs) and biosolids in agriculture, horticulture, and land reclamation was undertaken to assess agronomic value, environmental safety, and potential economic use of these materials. Use of CCPs in agriculture and land reclamation is a highly desired alternative to landfill disposal. Electric utilities can avoid disposal costs by marketing by-products, which generate revenues in some cases. Use of CCPs in agriculture and land reclamation has not been optimized due to lack of innovative uses on a large-scale basis. Mixing CCPs with biosolids provides a product that takes advantage of the complementary and positive properties of these by-products.

Environmental Protection Agency, “Coal Combustion Products Partnership” (C2P2)
http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/conserve/c2p2/index.htm

The Coal Combustion Products Partnership (C2P2) Program is a cooperative effort of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the coal combustion products (CCPs) industry to help promote the beneficial use of CCPs and the environmental benefits which can result from that beneficial use.

University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research, International Ash Utilization Symposium (IAUS), “Ash Library”
http://www.flyash.info/

As a forum for the gathering and dissemination of information, the International Ash Utilization Symposia series has biennially brought together experts from around the world. The papers at this website were presented at that symposia series.

U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, “Clean Coal Related Information: Coal Wastes and Byproducts and their Utilization”
http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/coalpower/cctc/cctdp/bibliography/misc/bibm_cwbu.html

A list of over 20 links to reports and newsletters related to coal byproducts.

Western Region Ash Group
http://www.wrashg.org/

The Western Region Ash Group is an informal association of producers, users, regulators, researchers and others interested in CCPs. Members are involved in reuse of CCPs including researching new applications or making others aware of the many uses of these versatile products.

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Last revised: Dec. 11, 2009.