Grand Forks, N. Dak. -- One hundred million tons of coal combustion by-products are produced each year by burning coal to generate electricity. These by-products are a valuable resource and can be reused as raw materials for a wide variety of industries. Currently, only 30 percent is used, with the remainder disposed.
Researchers with the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) Coal Ash Resources Research Consortium (CARRC) have developed the on-line "Buyer's Guide to Coal Ash-Containing Products" to showcase the many uses of coal ash in products ranging from building materials to bowling balls. Architects, engineers, contractors, and the general public can access information about these products free in the on-line catalog at http://www.undeerc.org/carrc.
Products that contain coal ash are considered "green" products because their use conserves land, energy, and natural resources. It also reduces carbon dioxide emissions generated in the production of competing materials, improves the balance of trade, and reduces solid waste.
"In today's market, consumers appear to be most receptive to green products when their primary needs for performance, quality, convenience, and affordability are met and when they understand how a green product can help to solve an environmentally related problem," said EERC Research Manager Debra Pflughoeft-Hassett. "The Buyer's Guide addresses these issues and shows how coal ash, when properly used, adds value to a product by enhancing strength and durability while at the same time reducing cost," Pflughoeft-Hassett said.
Although much of coal ash is used primarily in building materials such as cement and concrete, it is also proven to be a safe, economical substitute for many other raw materials such as ceiling and decorative floor tiles and dry wall. Several products featured in the Buyer's Guide were recently used in the construction of the Fort Mandan Visitor's Center in Washburn, N. Dak. which serves as a national showcase of ash-containing products.
"Coal ash is not a waste, but rather a partially refined resource," said EERC Director Gerald Groenewold. "Through quality research and development efforts at the EERC, we are finding innovative ways of taking these materials and turning them into a quality, useable products which can result in new businesses and job opportunities in our region," Groenewold said.
The Buyer's Guide is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Great River Energy.
CARRC was founded in 1985 as an international consortium of industry and government representatives, scientists, and engineers working together to advance coal ash utilization worldwide. CARRC is housed at the EERC, which is a research, development, demonstration, and commercialization facility at the University of North Dakota recognized internationally for its expertise in cleaner, more efficient energy technologies.
The above story is based on materials provided by University Of North Dakota, Energy & Environmental Research Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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