Sustainable Utilization of Coal Combustion Byproducts through the Production of High Grade Minerals and Cement-less Green Concrete

EPA Grant Number: SU836028
Title: Sustainable Utilization of Coal Combustion Byproducts through the Production of High Grade Minerals and Cement-less Green Concrete
Investigators: Mohanty, Manoj K. , Kumar, Sanjeev
Current Investigators: Mohanty, Manoj K. , Rahman, Mohammad Wahid , Zhang, Baojie , Akbari, Hamid , Culberth, Nick , Kolay, Prabir , Jha, Pravin , Shin, Sanguok , Kumar, Sanjeev , Bhusal, Sudha , Rimmer, Sue , Heller, Tom , Wiltowski, Tomasz , Yang, Xinbo
Institution: Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2011 through August 14, 2012
Project Amount: $14,841
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Challenge Area - Chemical Safety , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


The main objectives of the proposed study include:

  1. To develop a novel flowsheet for extracting valuable mineral oxides, such as Iron oxide and Titanium dioxide from the waste products of high sulfur coal combustion/electricity generation process.
  2. To develop a suitable process to utilize majority of the coal combustion residues as a useful product in the form of a geopolymer-based concrete without the use of any Portland cement.


More than 136 million tons of Coal Combustion Byproducts (CCBs) are being produced annually to satisfy our nation’s need for electricity and energy. However, less than 45% of these CCBs are being successfully used in various applications and the remainder is being dumped as waste materials in the landfills and ash ponds. Many past studies indicate the presence of a variety of metal oxides in CCBs. Some of these metal oxides like Fe2O3 and Fe3O4 are present in much greater proportion if the combustion feed coal contains high amount of pyritic sulfur. Incidentally, these oxides are extracted from the mother-nature in the form of hematite and magnetite ore minerals, respectively in Iron ore mines. Understandably, the amount of mining activity and the associated negative environmental impact can be significantly reduced by extracting various minerals from the CCBs which are abundantly available in numerous ash ponds in the country.

Another wide-scale application envisioned for the CCBs is cement-less geopolymer-based concrete. Usually, concrete is prepared using Portland cement utilizing a high CO2 producing chemical process and thus is responsible for about 5-8% of total CO2 emissions as a green house gas affecting global warming. A local utility company (Southern Illinois Power Cooperative) has shown significant interest in the proposed ideas and has committed significant assistance during the Phase 2 (demonstration phase) of this study. Our team will work closely with coal power plants in Southern Illinois area and the research outcomes will be presented on campus as well as national and state community to promote the concepts of high-value utilization of CCBs.

Expected Results:

Low cost processing flowsheets to extract various metal oxides (like Iron oxides and Titanium oxides) from fly ash and bottom ash as well as a suitable procedure for producing cement-less geopolymer-based concrete using fly ash and bottom ash will be the main research deliverables. Poster and product demonstration will also be conducted upon the successful completion of this project.

Supplemental Keywords:

waste to value, sustainable construction materials, geopolymer, green concrete, alternative construction material, recycled materials, hazardous waste remediation, environmental education;

Relevant Websites:

Phase 2 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Sustainable Utilization of Coal Combustion Byproducts through the Production Of High Grade Minerals and Cement-less Green Concrete