Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lightweight Material Provides New Use for Coal Ash

27.11.2008
Each year, coal-burning power plants, steel factories and similar facilities in the United States produce more than 125 million tons of waste, much of it fly ash and bottom ash left over from combustion. Mulalo Doyoyo has plans for that material.

An assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Doyoyo has developed a new structural material based on these leftovers from coal burning. Known as Cenocell™, the material offers attributes that include high strength and light weight – without the use of cement, an essential ingredient of conventional concrete.

With broad potential applications and advantages such as good insulating properties and fire resistance, the “green” material could replace concrete, wood and other materials in a broad range of applications in construction, transportation and even aerospace.

“Dealing with the ash left over from burning coal is a problem all over the world,” said Doyoyo. “By using it for real applications, our process can make the ash a useful commodity instead of a waste product. It could also create new industry and new jobs in parts of the world that need them badly.”

Fly ash is composed of small particles removed from combustion gases by pollution control systems. Most of it must now be disposed of as a waste product, though certain types of fly ash can be used to replace a portion of the cement used in conventional concrete.

Cenocell, produced from either fly ash or bottom ash in a reaction with organic chemicals, requires none of the cement or aggregate – sand and rock – used in concrete. And unlike concrete, it emerges from curing ovens in final form and does not require a lengthy period to reach full strength.

“This is a new material very different from concrete,” Doyoyo said.

Because it uses what is now considered a waste material to replace cement – which generates carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas – the new material is considered an asset to the environment. The material can have a wide range of properties that make it competitive with concrete, especially the new classes of autoclaved lightweight concrete.

For instance, specific densities range from 0.3 to 1.6, and the material can be manufactured to withstand pressures of up to 7,000 pounds per cubic inch. The properties can be controlled by choosing the proper ash particles size, chemical composition, and the curing time, which can range from three to 24 hours.

“We have a wide range in terms of texture, properties, performance and applications,” said Doyoyo. “The possibilities for this material are very broad.”

Among the potential applications for the material are:

• Building and construction industry – infrastructure materials that provide sound, crash and fire barriers; permeable pavements; drainage fillers; ultra-light truss stiffeners, foam, wood and concrete replacements in residential and commercial buildings; and acoustical tiles. Cenocell is lighter than most “lightweight” concrete, and lightweight versions can be machined and cut with standard band saws.

• Transportation industry – cores for shock and crash absorbers; fillers for trailer floors or b-pillars in vehicle frames.

• Aerospace industry – ultra-light heat shielding.

• Protective installations – fireproof blast walls or structural fillers for hazardous fluids.

Though for competitive reasons he won’t disclose the precise chemical composition of Cenocell, Doyoyo says the processing involves mixing the ash with organic chemicals. The chemical reaction produces foaming, and results in a gray slurry that resembles bread dough. The material is then placed in forms and cured in ovens at approximately 100 degrees Celsius until the desired strength is attained.

“We form a final compound through a combination of chemical and mechanical processes,” Doyoyo explained. “Once it comes out of our process, it is ready to go and does not continue to change over time.”

Unlike concrete, which remains a mixture of materials held together by chemical bonds, Cenocell is a homogenous material. The cell sizes and final strength depend on both the curing time and size of the ash particles used. Estimates suggest the material could be manufactured for an average cost of $50 per cubic yard.

Doyoyo and his research team – which also includes Paul Biju-Duvall, Julien Claus, Dereck Major, Rolan Duvvury and Josh Gresham – have so far made only small samples for testing. They are working with a Georgia-based maker of autoclaved concrete to produce larger samples for additional testing. Large-scale manufacturing could be done with the same equipment now used to make autoclaved concrete, he says.

Doyoyo will present information about the material at the inception workshop of the Resource-Driven Technology Concept Center in South Africa (RETECZA) December 1-3, 2008, and at the World of Coal Ash meeting May 4-7, 2009.

“We are focusing a lot on the construction industry,” Doyoyo said. “When this material is used to build a structure, it will save a lot of energy for heating and air conditioning because of its good insulating properties.”

A native of South Africa who was educated at the University of Cape Town, Brown University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Doyoyo sees value beyond the re-use of a waste material. He believes Cenocell could provide low-cost housing in developing countries and economic development impact from a new industry.

“This material could help develop communities by allowing people living near coal-burning facilities to create a new industry and new jobs,” he said. “This could be an engine of development for people who have been struggling. It really is a material with a social conscience.”

John Toon | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Barely scratching the surface: A new way to make robust membranes
13.12.2018 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht Topological material switched off and on for the first time
11.12.2018 | ARC Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>