Recycling Fly Ash for Concrete

Building projects and energy production are two industries vital to infrastructure and the economy. At the same time, energy production has negative environmental impacts, and the construction industry is one of the largest consumers of energy.  These two industries combine to create a value chain to move a polluting byproduct from one industry and turn it into a recycled component of the another. This has led to the availability of more sustainable commercial construction with use cases from cellular concrete to high density concrete applications.

Fly Ash is a combination of particulates that result from coal combustion. If these particulates are released into the air they can enter ecosystems or be breathed directly, leading to adverse health effects. This led to environmental regulations mandating the removal of fly ash from coal power plants’ combustion products before they leave the plants’ chimneys. This lead to an improvement in air quality but also a large amount of fly ash just being stored on site at power plants or in landfills.

At the same time, environmentally friendly building practices became more important in some projects. One sustainability metric of building materials is the amount of energy required to produce a material, known as the embodied energy of the material. Reducing the embodied energy means that less energy is consumed during the production and transportation of building materials, which in turn reduces the overall amount of energy that must be produced to meet demand and its corresponding environmental impact. One major way of reducing embodied energy is to include recycled materials as they often require significantly less energy to acquire than it does to make new material.

Fly ash is a pozzolan and can partially replace Portland cement in concrete production. Introducing fly ash into concrete construction increases the percentage of recycled products in building materials and reduces the amount of fly ash stored throughout the country.

The Conco Companies mission is to be the best supplier of concrete services in the Western United States and to bring expertise, experience, and quality of each project. We continue to upgrade and expand facilities to better serve the growing market for commercial, educational, public works, and parking structure projects as well as other construction development.  

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