Dominion recycling center turns ash to cash | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com

We submit herein another lengthy collection of direct, seemingly reputable, confirmations of the fact that Coal fly ash, just like Carbon Dioxide, is a by-product of our vital Coal-use industries of immense potential  value; a raw material out of which we can make any number of things, via processes that, by putting to valuable use what might otherwise be treated - laughably, ridiculously, preposterously and fraudulently - as "hazardous" waste, actually conserve other vital, natural resources.

First, from fully one half of a decade ago, we submit an article from a definitely not-Coal Country newspaper, clearly reporting that Coal power plant fly ash can be treated and utilized as a raw material commodity.

Comment and additional, more technical, reference links follow excerpts from the initial link to:

""Dominion Recycling Center Turns Ash to Cash

The Virginia Pilot; November, 2006

CHESAPEAKE (VA) - It looks like a really big igloo, or maybe an indoor skating rink.

But Dominion Virginia Power says the new, domed structure next to its Chesapeake power station will make money, create jobs and help the environment.

The waterfront facility, on the Elizabeth River just south of the Gilmerton Bridge, is an ash recycling center - the first of its kind in Virginia, and just the fourth in the nation. The facility acts like a big oven. It bakes black, carbon-laden fly ash into a kinder, gentler and paler byproduct that can be sold and made into concrete, roof tiling and construction blocks, among other alternative uses.

By doing so, Dominion no longer will have to bury its fly ash in a nearby industrial landfill, which was nearly filled with the black, powdery soot generated when coal is burned for electricity at the Chesapeake power plant.

The state's largest utility also can reuse heat created at the recycling complex. And the complex, in turn, gets to save on water by taking some of Dominion's leftover moisture to help run its processes.

"This is a zero-waste, ammonia-free, low-carbon process," said Lisa Cooper, vice president of Progress Materials Inc., or PMI, a Florida-based company that has opened two similar fly-ash centers in South Carolina and another in Massachusetts.

So why has the green technology, invented by a PMI engineer in 1989, not become a bigger thing?

"Well, it's sort of like recycled paper," Cooper explained. "At first, people crinkled it up and threw it away, thinking it wouldn't work. Now, everyone uses it."

She said the company is negotiating contracts for similar complexes "up and down the East Coast," suggesting that at least three more will be constructed in the next four years.

Dominion is watching how the Chesapeake facility performs and may invest in more such complexes, utility officials said.

Cooper would not say how much the Chesapeake center cost but agreed that "millions" was an accurate estimate. It will create nine full-time jobs in Chesapeake, she said, as well as 13 others in related trucking and marketing arenas.

Under an agreement with Dominion, PMI will receive all fly ash generated at the Chesapeake power plant; the domed warehouse on the Elizabeth River can hold 16,000 tons of the stuff.

PMI then will sell its carbon-lite ash to Boral Material Technologies Inc., which then will sell the material to local concrete companies, Cooper said.

Those companies are interested in the new product because it is a cheaper, environmentally sensitive alternative to portland cement, a key ingredient in concrete but a huge producer of carbon dioxide - a greenhouse gas implicated in global warming.

Because no such recycling center existed in Virginia before now, state regulators were not sure how to handle it.

It took about six months, but the state eventually added the complex onto Dominion's air-quality permit for the Chesapeake power plant.

"We're in compliance and all set to go," Cooper said.""

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Do you suppose that we - those of us resident in West Virginia, Pennsylvania  and the rest of United States Coal Country - will ever be "all set to go", when it comes to recycling and profiting from the Ash byproduct of our Coal use, like our more enlightened and better-informed fellow citizens in the definitely non-Coal Country states of, as above, "South Carolina and ... Massachusetts"?

Certainly, as with both the conversion of our abundant Coal into liquid fuels; as, for one example, seen in:

USDOE Converts Coal to Gasoline with Solar Power | Research & Development; concerning: "United States Patent 4,229,184 - Apparatus and Method for Solar Coal Gasification; 1980; Assignee: The USA; Abstract: Apparatus for using focused solar radiation to gasify coal and other carbonaceous materials. Incident solar radiation is focused ... onto the surface of a vertically-moving bed of coal, or a fluidized bed of coal, contained within a gasification reactor. Steam introduced into the gasification reactor reacts with the heated coal to produce gas consisting mainly of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, commonly called "synthesis gas", which can be converted to methane, methanol, gasoline, and other useful products";

and, the recycling of Carbon Dioxide into liquid fuels; as, for one example, seen in:

USDOE Converts CO2 to Gasoline | Research & Development; wherein is reported the three decades-old:  "United States Patent 4,197,421 - Synthetic Carbonaceous Fuels and Feedstocks; 1980; Assignee: The United States of America; Abstract: This invention relates to the use of a three compartment electrolytic cell in the production of synthetic carbonaceous fuels and chemical feedstocks such as gasoline, methane and methanol by electrolyzing an aqueous sodium carbonate/bicarbonate solution, obtained from scrubbing atmospheric carbon dioxide with an aqueous sodium hydroxide solution";

unless some significant number of common citizens in US Coal Country are finally deemed worthy to be told of all of those facts, we miners of Coal and we generators of power will never "be all set to go" - unless it's down the toilet, where everyone seems to want us, and, where, with only whimpers of unsubstantial protest, we seem to be allowing ourselves to be flushed.

With no apologies for that excursion, since we believe no apologies are deserved, following are some technical details concerning the above Coal ash processing and utilization technologies that have been developed by Dominion Virginia Power's expert Coal fly ash partners, "Progress Materials Inc., or PMI".

First, from more than a decade ago, we have:

http://www.flyash.info/1999/commerc/frady2.pdf; concerning:

"South Carolina Electric and Gas Successful Application of Carbon Burn-Out (CBO) at the Wateree Station

1999 International Ash Utilization Symposium; Center for Applied Energy Research, University of Kentucky

W.J. Frady, James Keppler and Jimmy Knowles

South Carolina Electric and Gas Company; Progress Materials, Inc.; and, Southeastern Ash Co., Inc.

CBO combusts residual carbon in fly-ash, producing a very consistent, low-carbon, high-quality pozzolan.

(Note: As we understand it from a variety of web-based sources, such as the Wikipedia, "pozzolans" are materials that can be reacted with Calcium Oxide or Calcium Hydroxide and made to form a "cementitious" product. They are commonly used as "cement extenders" in Portland cement-based concrete to increase the long-term strength and/or to improve other properties.)

A one-ton per hour CBO pilot plant was constructed and continues to operate on a wide variety of ash

Extensive concrete testing has been and continues to be undertaken in order to demonstrate the superior characteristics of very low-carbon Class F fly ash from Carbon Burn-Out.

(Note: As a retiree from one of power plants down near Pittsburgh tells us, "Class F fly ash" comes from burning anthracite and bituminous Coals. "Class C" ash comes from burning lignite or sub-bituminous Coals. Web-based reference sources seem to confirm that.)

An important feature of Carbon Burn-Out is heat recovery from the residual carbon's combustion. Heat is recovered from both the flue gas and the hot product ash. This recovered heat is returned to Wateree Station by heating a portion of the power plant's process stream (which) increases the quantity of steam available to the turbine-generator."

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First, although we can't reference some of our previous reports documenting the fact since they haven't yet been posted, we affirm that some Coal ash from some Coal-fired power generation facilities will contain some residual, unburned Carbon.

That residual Carbon, herein, is being combusted out of the Coal ash in such a way that some heat energy generated by, or utilized in, the "Carbon Burn-Out" is recovered and recycled back into the power station to help generate a little electricity. Thus, some of the costs of processing the ash are offset.

In other Fly Ash utilization processes, in which Fly Ash is consumed in cement-making, the residual Carbon can be a source of additional thermal energy for the basic limestone "calcination" process, and doesn't really have to be removed, as it is in the PMI-South Carolina process, above. However, if Fly Ash is to be used only as an aggregate in concrete, to be added to the mix after the cement itself has actually been made, then it is, as other reports we're preparing indicate, important to make certain that as much residual Carbon as possible is "burned out" of the ash.

In any case, the "Progress Materials, Inc", or "PMI" technology installed at South Carolina Electric and Gas Company's Wateree Station and at Dominion Virginia Power's Chesapeake station is based on a collection of United States Patents awarded to scientists in the employ of PMI.

One of the more recent of those we have been able to find is:

United States Patent: 7867462 - Coal Combustion Systems with Fly Ash Beneficiation

January, 2011

Inventor: Joseph Cochran, FL

Assignee: PMI Ash Technologies, NC

Abstract: A method and system for controlling emissions with ammonia recovery and fly ash beneficiation in accordance with the present invention includes introducing ammonia to react with at least a portion of sulfur trioxides in an exhaust emission and result in at least one or more ammoniated compounds. At a least a portion of fly ash particles and the ammoniated compounds in the exhaust emission are precipitated and at least the precipitated fly ash particles are beneficiated. At least a portion of the beneficiated fly ash particles which are heated are mixed with the precipitated ammoniated compounds to recover at least a portion of the ammonia. The recovered ammonia is reused in introducing ammonia to react with at least a portion of sulfur trioxides."

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We want to keep our excerpts brief, since we are attempting to cover so much ground in this dispatch.

In essence, as we explain in separate reports still awaiting publication, that are based on other sources, Ammonia is utilized in some pollution control systems, especially those for the abatement of Nitrogen Oxides. Such systems will leave the Fly Ash contaminated with some Ammonia, which is undesirable in certain applications, especially in those wherein Fly Ash is utilized, with minimal sorting and preparation, simply as an aggregate in cement mixtures, to form concrete. When Fly Ash is calcined with limestone in a cement kiln, as when it is utilized as one of the basic components of the cement, then any residual Ammonia is decomposed by the heat, and it isn't so much of an issue.

In any case, United States Patent 7,867,462 was founded on and related to somewhat precedent PMI technology, as disclosed by:

"United States Patent: 7703403 - System and Method for Recomposing Ammonia from Fly Ash

(Note: As somewhat shockingly happens on a not too-infrequent basis, there sometimes appear "typo's" and other wording errors in what one might think to be precise United States Patent documents. We are fairly certain that the above title should read: "Decomposing Ammonia"; and, that the later process, as in our above citation of United States Patent 7,867,462, actually relates to the "Recomposing" of Ammonia, for recycling and reuse in flue gas treating operations.)

Date: April, 2010

Inventors: Vincent Giampa and Joseph Cochran, FL

Assignee: PMI Ash Technologies, NC

Abstract: A system and method for decomposing ammonia from fly ash contaminated with ammonia is provided which includes maintaining the temperature of a bed of ammonia-contaminated fly ash at a decomposition temperature greater than 500 F and less than 842 F to decompose the ammonia from the fly ash. In a preferred embodiment, the ammonia-laden fly ash is maintained at a temperatures less than a lowest carbon combustion temperature at which substantial combustion of carbon in fly ash begins to occur. A preferred embodiment includes a first chamber operating at (the specified) decomposition temperature  followed by a second chamber operating at a higher carbon combustion temperature for carbon burn-out.

Claims: An apparatus for removing ammonia from ammonia-laden fly ash containing carbon.

Background and Field: The present invention relates to a system and method for decomposing ammonia from fly ash contaminated with high levels of ammonia. 

Utilities and operators of industrial boilers face challenges associated with implementing current and future regulations. In recent years, there has been increasing public and government concern over the environmental impact of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, which contribute to the environmental impact of acid rain. In order to meet the new NO.sub.x emission requirements, many utilities install pollution control equipment, using a combination of combustion management and post-combustion processes. Unintended consequences associated with the installation of pollution control equipment have surfaced. 

Two approaches are typically used for the control of NOx emissions. These are combustion tuning and post combustion treatment of flue gas. Combustion tuning techniques include low NOx burners, over-fired air systems, reburning, and flue gas recirculation. Post combustion treatments include, but are not limited to, Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction (SNCR). 

SCR and SNCR chemically reduce NOx to nitrogen and water. The difference between SCR and SNCR is that SCR utilizes a catalyst which allows the NOx reduction reaction to occur at a lower temperature. The two reagents most commonly used in SNCR systems are either ammonia or urea while SCR uses ammonia. 
While ammonia has been used successfully to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, the ammonia is typically introduced in excess of the reaction requirement and is not totally consumed. These fugitive ammonia emissions are called ammonia slip. SCR systems typically operate with ammonia slip values in the 5 ppm range while SNCR systems operate considerably higher. Ammonia slip can be expected to vary widely depending on changes in operating conditions. Some of the slip reports to the gas stream and some to the combustion by-products. Therefore, residues from the combustion process such as fly ash and other combustion by-products will contain ammonia and/or ammonia compounds, such as ammonium sulfate, ammonium bisulfate, ammonium chloride, ammonium hydroxide and ammonium carbonate.

(And, that is how Ammonia contamination of Coal Fly Ash occurs.)

Summary: The present invention is a method and system for the removal of ammonia from fly ash. This is accomplished by maintaining the temperature of a fluidized bed of ammonia-laden fly ash at a decomposition temperature greater than 500F and less than 842F, resulting in the decomposition of the ammonia from the fly ash.

The gas emissions of the present invention are low in ammonia and NOx content.

The method and system of the present invention may also include maintaining the ammonia-laden fly ash at a temperature less than a lowest carbon combustion temperature at which substantial combustion of carbon in fly ash begins to occur.

The heat source may be any one of, or a combination of ... hot fly ash (or) hot exhaust gas ... .

(Thus, the potential exists to utilize what would otherwise be waste power plant heat.)

A preferred embodiment of the present invention includes providing a second chamber, introducing the resultant ammonia-free fly ash from the first chamber into the second chamber, increasing the temperature of the resultant ammonia-free fly ash to a carbon combustion temperature at which substantial combustion of carbon in the fly ash occurs, and maintaining the resultant ammonia-free fly ash at the carbon combustion temperature to remove the carbon from the fly ash."

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Our excerpts from the above United States Patent 7,703,403 might be over-long, but, we did want to make certain it was clear that a Coal Fly Ash product, essentially free of both Ammonia and residual Carbon, could be produced in an efficient way.

Such "cleansing" of Coal ash would make it suitable not just for use in the making of cement and/or aggregate concrete, but, as well, for use, as we will document in later reports, as a "filler" and extender in other types of materials, especially plastics.

An example of such use we've earlier reported can be seen in:

Carbon Dioxide + Coal Fly Ash = Synthetic Lumber | Research & Development; which concerns, in part: "United States Patent Application 20080029925 - Filled Polymer Composite and Synthetic Building Material; 2008; Abstract: The invention relates to composite compositions having a matrix of polymer networks and dispersed phases of particulate or fibrous materials. The matrix is filled with a particulate phase, which can be selected from one or more of a variety of components, such as fly ash particles".

In any case, the seemingly-misnamed "United States Patent 7,703,403" appears to be closely related to, and very derivative of, the earlier:

"United States Patent: 7462235 - System and Method for Decomposing Ammonia from Fly Ash

Date: December, 2008

Inventor: Vincent Giampa and Joseph Cochran, FL

Assignee: Progress Materials, Inc., FL

(Note that Progress Materials, Inc., apparently changed their name to "PMI" sometime between 2008 and April, 2010, when United States Patent 7,703,403 was awarded, and, in the same time frame, moved from Florida to North Carolina.)

Abstract: A system and method for decomposing ammonia from fly ash contaminated with ammonia is provided which includes maintaining the temperature of a bed of ammonia-contaminated fly ash at a decomposition temperature greater than 500F and less than 842F to decompose the ammonia from the fly ash. In a preferred embodiment, the ammonia-laden fly ash is maintained at a temperature less than a lowest carbon combustion temperature at which substantial combustion of carbon in fly ash begins to occur."

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In perfect honesty, our limited little crew is at a total loss to see what significant differences would exist between "United States Patent 7,462,235" and "United States Patent 7,703,403".

But, in any case, we can recover, or at least remove, Ammonia from Coal ash, and, then, destroy residual, at higher temperatures, if we want, after we get rid of the Ammonia, any remaining Carbon.

The cleaned Fly Ash would then be much more suitable for use in making cement; for adding to cement as an aggregate to make concrete; or, for adding to other materials, as in our above citation of "United States Patent Application 20080029925 - Filled Polymer Composite and Synthetic Building Material", to make other composite materials that are, by happy coincidence, both stronger and less expensive.

And, all of that relates directly to our headline and implied thesis:

We can, indeed, convert Coal Ash into Cash.


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