Flyash, alsoknown as flue-ash, is one of theresidues generated in combustion, and comprises the fine particles that rise with the flue gases. Ash which does not rise is termed bottom ash. In an industrial context, flyash usually refers to ash produced during combustion of coal. Flyash is generally captured by electrostatic precipitators or other particle filtration equipment before the flue gases reach the chimneys of coal-fired power plants, and together with bottom ash removed from the bottom of the furnace is in this case jointly known as coalash. Depending upon the source and makeup of the coal being burned, the components of flyash vary considerably, but all flyash includes substantial amounts of silicon dioxide (SiO2) (both amorphous and crystalline) and calciumoxide (CaO), both being endemicing redients in many coal-bearing rockstrata. Toxic constituents depend upon the specific coal bed makeup, but may include one or more of the following elements or substances in quantities from trace amounts to several percent: arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, hexavalent chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium, alongwith dioxins and PAH compounds.
In the past, flyash was generally released into the atmosphere, but pollution control equipment mandated in recent decades now require that it be captured priorto release. In the US, flyash is generally stored at coal power plants or placed in landfills. About 43% is recycled, often used to supplement Portlandcement in concrete production. Some have expressed health concerns about this.
In some cases, such as the burning of solid wasteto create electricity (“resourcerecovery” facilitiesa.k.a. waste-to-energy facilities), the flyash may contain higher levels of contaminants than the bottom ash and mixing the fly and bottom ash together brings the proportional levels of contaminants with in the range to qualify as non hazardous waste in a given state, whereas, unmixed, the flyash would be within the range to qualify as hazardous waste.
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