What is fly ash?
Fly ash is a fine powder by-product produced when pulverized coal is burnt in a coal-fired thermal power plant. A huge quantity is produced per day - as much as 10% to 20% of the coal burning at an average plant. A power plant using low-grade fuel has the potential to produce large quantities of fly ash in a day.
A majority of the unutilized fly ash is dumped in landfills. This causes land pollution and water wastage, as hydraulic systems are used to wash away hundreds of tons of fly ash daily at an average-sized power plant.
However, on the flip side, fly ash contains aluminous and siliceous material that forms cement in the presence of water. It increases the workability of plastic concrete and the strength and durability of hardened concrete. Moreover, the huge availability of fly ash makes its products very cost-effective.
Why is the Prime Minister’s Office stressing an increase in fly ash utilization instead of red clay bricks?
According to the Ministry of Power (GOI), 53% of electricity generated in India is produced from coal-fired thermal power plants. A report by the same ministry for the year 2019-20 mentions that the 197 thermal power stations in the country consumed 678.68 million tons of coal. This produced about 226.13 million tons of fly ash. In this report, it has been found that the Ministry of Environment and Forests have given five to four-year plans to all the thermal power stations to achieve 100% fly ash utilization. About 26% of the fly ash generated in 2019-20 was utilized for manufacturing cement. Other major modes of fly ash utilization were: reclamation of low-lying areas, manufacturing tiles and bricks, building flyovers, roads, and mine filling. Sadly, 17% of the fly ash produced was unutilized.
There are various reasons for the government to stimulate an increase in fly ash utilization instead of red clay bricks:
Red bricks require more water during the curing process, unlike fly ash bricks.
100% utilization of red clay bricks is not possible. During loading, unloading, etc. breakage of these bricks is very common. However, breakage of fly ash bricks is negligible and 100% utilization is possible.
Red clay bricks aren’t ‘green products’. The clay used to make these bricks is taken from the topsoil. This way, the fertility of the soil is reduced affecting agricultural production. Also, the manufacturing process leads to CO2 emissions increasing the carbon footprint. Fly ash is a waste product harmful to the environment that is RECYCLED to produce fly ash bricks. Also, the fly ash brick manufacturing process has a lesser carbon footprint.
Governments throughout the world are pushing for stronger regulations on climate change and environmental conservation laws to promote start-ups and businesses that can help industries transition to sustainable development. This is where we step in, to connect the dots between opportunity and execution. Hence, here at RecycleX, we recycle fly ash to produce fly-ash bricks and many such building materials at very efficient prices to combat land and water pollution and do our bit towards building a vibrant circular economy for the country.