Researchers See New Potential In Coal Waste

Waste from environmentally friendly methods of burning coal represent significant commercial potential, suggest researchers at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa. With coal-fired plants now using burners that reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, the result is fly ash with an increased amount of unburned carbon. After separation, the fly ash can be sold to cement manufacturers, and the unburned carbon can be transformed into activated carbon products, says M. Mercedes Maroto-Valer, research associate. "We get high surface area after short activation times and product yields over 70%." Unlike anthracite, unburned carbon, separated from fly ash, does not need cleaning or crushing, nor does it need heating to remove volatile components, researchers add.

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