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Fly ash, the residue of combustion of coal, originally a mixture of vegetation, clay and rocks,

comprises a wide range of inorganic matters. Physically, fly ash occurs as very fine particles,
majority having sizes in the range from a few micron to 100 microns, low to medium bulk
density, high surface area and sandy silt to silty loam texture. Chemically, fly ash is amorphous
ferro-alumina silicate mineral with major matrix elements like, Si, Al, Fe, together with
significant amounts of major / secondary nutrients (K, P, Ca, Mg, S) and micro nutrients (Cu, Zn,
Mn, Fe, Mo, B). The concentration of heavy metals and radio-nuclides in fly ash generated from
Indian coals is very low. Their leachability / availability and effect on soil or plant are negligible
and below the levels that can cause ill-effective. The impact of use of fly ash for various
applications is beneficial from health and environment point of view also. The texture, Physicochemical and geo-technical properties of fly ashes generated from coals including trace/ heavy
metal content and radioactivity are similar to those of common soils. Due to these properties of
fly ash, it can be safely used in agriculture, mines, road/ embankment, as building material, etc.
The pozzolanic property of fly ash/lime reactivity enables it to be used in manufacture of cement
and in concrete to replace a part of cement.

Types of fly ash

Fly ash is produce in large quantities at coal / lignite thermal power stations. Application of
technologies for collection, transportation and deposition of ash results in its availability
primarily in four forms, namely; dry fly ash/ hopper ash, bottom ash, pond ash and mound ash,
which are described below:
Dry Fly Ash/ Hopper ash: About eighty per cent of the total ash is finely divided and comes
out of boiler along with flue gases. It is collected by cyclone separators or electrostatic
precipitators (ESP) or bag filters or other suitable means. Sometimes this ash is also referred to
as chimney ash.
Dry fly ash collected from different fields of Electro Static Precipitators (ESP) are of different
fineness. The fly ash collected in the ESP field nearer to boiler are coarser than the fly ash
collected in the ESP fields away from the boiler (i.e. nearer to the chimney).
Bottom Ash: The balance about twenty per cent of ash gets collected at the bottom of the
boiler furnace and is referred to as bottom ash. It is coarser then dry fly ash/hopper ash.
Pond Ash: When dry fly ash alone or along with bottom ash is carried, in the form of water
slurry, to storage or deposition lagoon or pond and deposited, is termed as pond ash.
Mound Ash: When dry fly ash, alone or along with bottom ash is carried, in dry/moist form, to
the storage or deposition site and deposited in the form of hillock, is termed as mound ash.
Fly ash is a good material for wide range of applications viz. manufacture of cement, substitute
of cement in concrete, manufacture of building components like bricks, blocks, tiles, etc., as a
geo-technical material for construction of embankment and reclamation of low lying areas, filling
of underground, open mines, use in agriculture including reclamation of degraded / waste lands,
The pozzolanic property coupled with lime reactivity makes it very suitable for cementitious /
binding applications. Its geo-technical property makes it a good substitute of soil and the
presence of required percentage of silica, alumina and iron oxide etc. makes it suitable for
sintered applications.

The suitability of fly ash for various applications is very safe due to very low levels of heavy
metals, toxic elements and radio nuclides in fly ash as well as its physical and chemical property
being very close to the range of common soils. The following tables provide general range of
physical, chemical, geo-technical properties, available major, secondary, micro-nutrients and
trace / heavy metals and radio-activity levels in fly ash and soil (source: Fly Ash India 2005 International Congress)

Fly ash has vast potential for gainful utilization in mining sector. Various established applications
of fly ash in mine sector include the following:
Stowing of underground mines with fly ash (in lieu of sand).
Sand has become a scares commodity at most of the locations. Its demand has considerably
increased for construction industry and availability is reducing because of excessive mining.
Mining industry is already on the look out for alternate stowing material including extraction of
sand like material from OB. Fly ash has been successfully demonstrated as a suitable stowing
Stowing with fly ash reduces water requirement by about 50 per cent and also power
requirement for recirculation of water by 50 per cent Fly ash fills well up to the roof of the cavity
as it is easily flowable and does not form cone like heep that happens in case of sand stowing.
In case of open cast mine, fly ash is a good material for back filling by itself and also when used
along with OB. It is a good material for stabilization of OB. Fly ash being finer material fills the
inner spaces of OB and stabilizes the same due to its binding property. It also provides micro
nutrients and increases water holding capacity that facilitate afforestation.
The use of fly ash in construction of haul roads improves the life considerably, reduces
maintenance cost, improves output and reduces consumption of tyres of dumpers as well as the
down time for maintenance.
Use of fly ash bricks / blocks as well as fly ash based cement or fly ash as a substitute of cement
in concrete and mortar has also been established for various construction activities at mine sites
including office / residential complexes and construction / development of roads, sewerage
system as well as landscaping. Fly ash brick / blocks are excellent material for construction of
stoppings in underground mines.
Stabilization of OB dumps and development with regenerative vegetation with fly ash and other
amendments have also been established.