Researchers seeking innovative uses for coal ash


UNC Charlotte researchers are investigating how to improve coal ash for both recycling and restoration. John Daniels, chair and professor of civil and environmental engineering, and fellow faculty members are actively researching ways to address environmental impacts created by coal ash, the byproduct of coal-burning electricity production. 

Researchers’ efforts include those aimed at strategies that responsibly utilize coal ash, such as geopolymer concrete. Using funding from the Environmental Research and Education Foundation, UNC Charlotte investigators also are studying ways to make coal ash water-repellent, allowing it to be used in more construction and infrastructure applications.

Daniels established and leads an autonomous panel of internationally recognized coal ash experts. The National Ash Management Advisory Board, which includes engineers and researchers from several leading research universities, held its latest meeting this week in Charlotte.

The panel advises Charlotte-based Duke Energy, the nation’s largest energy producer. The panel’s recommendations, such as including sustainability and life cycle analysis into design, are increasingly applied across the energy industry.

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Originally published November 10, 2017.


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