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About Fly Ash

Context:

Recently, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) clarified the compliance dates for the complete utilisation of fly ash for Thermal Power Plants (TPP) in a new notification.

Relevance:

GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Fly Ash
  2. Properties of fly ash
  3. Harmful Effects

About Fly Ash:

  • Fly ash is an unwanted unburnt residue of coal combustion in a coal thermal power plant.
  • It is emitted along with flue gases during the burning of coal in a furnace and collected using the electrostatic precipitators.
  • The fly ash collected with the help of precipitators is converted into a wet slurry to minimise fugitive dust emissions.
  • It is then transported to the scientifically designed ash ponds through slurry pipelines.
  • Composition:
  • The composition of fly ash is influenced by the coal being burned. Beryllium, arsenic, unburned carbon, silicon oxides, dioxins, aluminium oxide, ferric oxide, calcium oxide, etc. could all be present.
  • These substances are quite harmful to the environment.

Properties of fly ash:

  • Resemble Portland cement but is chemically different.
    • Portland cement is a binding material in the form of a finely ground powder that is manufactured by burning and grinding a mixture of limestone and clay.
  • Its chemical composition includes calcium silicates, calcium aluminate and calcium aluminoferrite.
  • Exhibit cementitious properties.
    • A cementitious material is one that hardens when mixed with water.
  • It is utilised in a variety of products, including mineral filler, road base, metal recovery, and concrete and cement products.

Harmful Effects: 

  • Particles of fly ash are hazardous air pollutants. Heart disease, cancer, respiratory conditions, and stroke can all be brought on by them.
  • They cause the leaching of heavy metals into groundwater when mixed with water.
  • Additionally, it degrades soil quality and interferes with trees’ root systems.
  • Fly ash has accumulated to a total of 1,670 million tonnes over the years due to gross under-utilisation of this byproduct, according to the Joint Committee’s Summary of Ash Generation and Utilisation during 2020–2021, which was previously established by the NGT.

-Source:  Down to Earth


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