The chemistry and mineralogy of coal and coal combustion products
The generation of electricity by thermal conversion of coal results in significant volumes of solid waste. Most of these materials are disposed of in surface impoundments near coal-fired power plants or in active coal mines. Disposal rates vary from country to country. In the USA, 60–70 wt% of these materials are disposed. Although these materials rarely meet the definition of hazardous, leachate tests on some coal ash have shown them capable of producing elevated concentrations of some regulated metals. As a result of the well-documented environmental concerns posed by coal combustion, and the disposal of coal combustion products (CCPs), a large body of research has focused on characterizing the mechanisms of mobilization and attenuation of trace elements in coal and its ash. However, groups opposed to coal combustion or unregulated disposal of ash overlook the value of these materials as well-proven replacements for aggregate, cement, or soil in numerous engineering and agricultural applications. An extensive body of knowledge has been gathered describing the variability and versatility of these materials. It has been shown that proper utilization or management of ash requires a good understanding of its chemical, physical, and mineralogical properties. This chapter is intended to provide a broad overview of the chemistry and mineralogy of coal, and the combustion products that are formed when coal is burned.
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This book provides incentives for further development of sustainable fuel cycles through a novel and interdisciplinary approach to an Earth science-related topic. The main focus is on geochemical concepts in immobilizing, isolating or neutralizing waste derived from energy production and consumption. The book also addresses the issue of using some types of energy-derived waste as alternative raw materials. Moreover, it highlights research on how certain wastes can be used for energy production, an increasingly important aspect of modern integrated waste management strategies. The main objectives are to: (a) identify the most serious environmental problems related to various types of power generation and associated waste accumulation; (b) present strategies, based on natural analogue materials, for the immobilization of toxic and radioactive waste components through mineralogical barriers; (c) discuss modern procedures for reuse of waste or certain waste components; and (d) review the importance of geochemical modelling in describing and predicting the interaction between waste and the environment.