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FLY ASH - AN ENGINEERING MATERIAL WHY FLY ASH? What is fly ash?

Fly ash is the finely divided residue that results from the combustion of pulverized coal and is transported from the combustion chamber by exhaust gases. Where does fly ash come from? Fly ash is produced by coal-fired electric and steam generating plants. Typically, coal is pulverized and blown with air into the boiler's combustion chamber where it immediately ignites, generating heat and producing a molten mineral residue. Boiler tubes extract heat from the boiler, cooling the flue gas and causing the molten mineral residue to harden and form ash. Coarse ash particles, referred to as bottom ash or slag, fall to the bottom of the combustion chamber, while the lighter fine ash particles, termed fly ash, remain suspended in the flue gas. Prior to exhausting the flue gas, fly ash is removed by particulate emission control devices, such as electrostatic precipitators or filter fabric baghouses (see Figure 1-1). Where is fly ash used? Currently, over 20 million metric tons (22 million tons) of fly ash are used annually in a variety of engineering applications. Typical highway engineering applications include: portland cement concrete (PCC), soil and road base stabilization, flowable fills, grouts, structural fill and asphalt filler. What makes fly ash useful? Fly ash is most commonly used as a pozzolan in PCC applications. Pozzolans are siliceous or siliceous and aluminous materials, which in a finely divided form and in the presence of water, react with calcium hydroxide at ordinary temperatures to produce cementitious compounds. The unique spherical shape and particle size distribution of fly ash make it a good mineral filler in hot mix asphalt (HMA) applications and improves the fluidity of flowable fill and grout. The consistency and abundance of fly ash in many areas present unique opportunities for use in structural fills and other highway applications.

As the fineness increases. Furthermore. 65 deg using Portland cement). Most specifyingagencies refer to ASTM C618. i. who are most concerned with consistent and predictable quality. Increased Durability -(low Chloride Ion penetration. the pozzolanic activity can be expected to increase. very low coulomb rating that further decreases with time). Fineness: Fineness is the primary physical characteristic of fly ash that relates to pozzolanic activity. Reduced heat of hydration (CANMET. This is because carbon contents (reflected by LOI) higher than 3 to 4 percent have an adverse effect on air entrainment. who are concerned about product quality and the control of air-entraining admixtures. Reduced Sulfate Attack.0 percent) to satisfy ready-mix concrete producers. No leaching of Calcium Hydroxide crystals on to the surface (those white patches). as determined in accordance with ASTM C311.e. Pozzolanic Activity (Chemical Composition and Mineralogy):Pozzolanic activity refers to the ability of the silica and alumina components of fly ash to react with available calcium and/or magnesium from the hydration products of Portland cement. Decreased Bleeding & Segregation. Canada found that 10 ft cubes had a temperature rise of only 35. LOI. Decreased Permeability. Increased Workability. Fly ashes must have a low enough LOI (usually less than 3. deg Celsius vs. Loss on I gnition: LOI value should not exceed 3 or 4 percent. and pozzolanic activity.ADVANTAGES ON ADDITION OF FLY ASH IN CONCRETE           Increased (later) Compressive Strength. ENGI NEERI NG PROPERTI ES OF FLY ASH Some of the engineering properties of fly ash that are of particular interest when fly ash is used as an admixture or a cement addition to PCC mixes include fineness. ASTM C618 requires that the pozzolanic activity index with Portland cement. even though the ASTM criteria is a maximum LOI content of 6 percent. be a minimum of 75 percent of the average 28-day compressive strength of control mixes made with Portland cement. consistent LOI values are almost as important as low LOI values to ready-mix producers. chemical composition. Reduced Drying Shrinkage. moisture content. .

In theory. and the use of deicer salts. Class C fly ashes should be individually tested before use in a sulfate environment. replacing it with insoluble calcium silicate hydrates (CSH). provided the fly ash concrete has achieved its design strength and has the proper air void system. the resistance of fly ash concrete to damage from freezing and thawing depends on the adequacy of the air void system. Alkali-Silica Reactivity: Class F fly ash has been effective in inhibiting or reducing expansive reactions resulting from the alkalisilica reaction. Some of the properties of fly ashconcrete mixes that are of particular interest include mix workability. it is necessary to test materials to be used in the field to ensure that expansion due to alkali-silica reactivity will be reduced to safe levels. such as strength development. Permeability: Fly ash reacting with available lime and alkalies generates additional cementitious compounds that act to block bleed channels. bleeding. climate. Special attention must be given to attaining the proper amount of entrained air and air void distribution. Some Class C fly ashes may improve sulfate resistance. pumpability. There should be no more tendency for fly ash concrete to scale in freezing and thawing exposures than conventional concrete. as well as the fly ash. Resistance to Freeze-Thaw: As with all concretes. which can result in expansive reactions. Sulfate Resistance: Class F fly ash will generally improve the sulfate resistance of any concrete mixture in which it is included.Moisture Content: ASTM C618 specifies a maximum allowable moisture content of 3. The relative resistance of fly ash to sulfate deterioration is reportedly a function of the ratio of calcium oxide to iron oxide. and alkali-silica reactivity. permeability. the absolute volume of cement plus fly ash usually exceeds that of cement in conventional concrete mixes. Once fly ash concrete has developed adequate strength. the reaction between the very small particles of amorphous silica glass in the fly ash and the alkalis in the Portland cement. However. The pozzolanic reaction consumes calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2). time of setting. preventing them from reacting with silica in aggregates. resistance to freeze-thaw. which is leachable. is effective in three ways in substantially reducing alkali-silica expansion: . ties up the alkalis in a non-expansive calcium-alkali-silica gel. Fly ash.0 percent. while others may actually reduce sulfate resistance and accelerate deterioration. filling pore space and reducing the permeability of the hardened concrete. When fly ash is used. sulfate resistance. the spherical shape of most fly ash particles permits greater workability than with conventional concrete mixes. as well as other factors. heat of hydration. because some fly ashes (including some Class C fly ashes) may have appreciable amounts of soluble alkalis. The increased ratio of solids volume to water volume produces a paste with improved plasticity and more cohesiveness. The increased volume of fines and reduced water content also play a role. Workability: At a given water-cement ratio. strength development. especially Class F fly ash. no significant differences in concrete durability have usually been observed.

and calcium. iron oxide. with the lighter shades of gray generally indicating a higher quality of ash. compared with bituminous coal fly ash. its chemical composition. with varying amounts of carbon. Table below compares the normal range of the chemical constituents of bituminous coal fly ash with those of lignite coal fly ash and subbituminous coal fly ash. or ranks. The particle size distribution of most bituminous coal fly ashes is generally similar to that of a silt (less than a 0. The specific gravity of fly ash usually ranges from 2. Very little anthracite coal is burned in utility boilers. Lignite and subbituminous coal fly ashes may have a higher concentration of sulfate compounds than bituminous coal fly ashes. either solid or hollow. fly ash is also sometimes classified according to the type of coal from which the ash was derived. MATERI AL PROPERTI ES Physical Properties Fly ash consists of fine. or wet form. each of which varies in terms of its heating value. depending on the amount of unburned carbon in the ash. less permeable concrete 2) when used as a cement replacement it reduces total alkali content by reducing the Portland cement. they are generally slightly coarser than bituminous coal fly ashes. Lignite or subbituminous fly ashes are usually light tan to buff in color. bituminous. and 3) alkalis react with fly ash instead of reactive silica aggregates. 200 sieve). Lignite and subbituminous coal fly ashes are characterized by higher concentrations of calcium and magnesium oxide and reduced percentages of silica and iron oxide. of coal. The color of fly ash can vary from tan to gray to black. and glassy components in combination with . and iron content in the ash. so there are only small amounts of anthracite coal fly ash. Although subbituminous coal fly ashes are also silt-sized. of coal are anthracite.1 to 3.075 mm or No.0. calcium sulfate. and lignite. There are basically four types. while its specific surface area (measured by the Blaine air permeability method)) may range from 170 to 1000 m2/kg. powdery particles that are predominantly spherical in shape. total calcium typically ranges from 1 to 12 percent. The carbonaceous material in fly ash is composed of angular particles. it is evident that lignite and subbituminous coal fly ashes have a higher calcium oxide content and lower loss on ignition than fly ashes from bituminous coals. and geological origin. subbituminous. the lower the carbon content. The lighter the color.1) it produces a denser. ash content. which can react with alkalis. alumina. The principal components of bituminous coal fly ash are silica. alumina. or ranks. In Class F fly ash. as well as a lower carbon content. as measured by the loss on ignition (LOI). The chief difference between Class F and Class C fly ash is in the amount of calcium and the silica. The four types. In addition to being handled in a dry. and mostly glassy (amorphous) in nature. indicating relatively low amounts of carbon as well as the presence of some lime or calcium. Chemical Properties The chemical properties of fly ash are influenced to a great extent by those of the coal burned and the techniques used for handling and storage. mostly in the form of calcium hydroxide. Class F fly ashes are probably more effective than Class C fly ashes because of their higher silica content. Bituminous fly ashes are usually some shade of gray. conditioned. From the table.

depending on the temperature. and Compacting Placement and handling of fly ash concrete is in most respects similar to that of normal concrete. Placing. Mixing. Another difference between Class F and Class C is that the amount of alkalis (combined sodium and potassium) and sulfates (SO4) are generally higher in the Class C fly ashes than in the Class F fly ashes. Normal range of chemical composition for fly ash produced from different coal types (expressed as percent by weight) . CONSTRUCTI ON PROCEDURES Material Handling and Storage When fly ash is used as a mineral admixture. Fly ash concrete using Class F fly ash has a slower setting time than normal concrete.silica and alumina. As a result. the ready-mix producer typically handles fly ash in the same manner as Portland cement. except that fly ash must be stored in a separate silo from the Portland cement. fly ash concrete surfaces may tend to be more sticky than normal concrete during placement and finishing. In contrast. edging. and jointing of conventional PCC are also applicable to fly ash concrete. Curing The slower strength development of concrete containing Class F fly ash may require that the moisture be retained in the concrete for a longer period of time than what is normally required . Class C fly ash may have reported calcium oxide contents as high as 30 to 40 percent. Also. possibly by 1 to 2 hours. finishing. although properly proportioned concrete mixes containing fly ash should benefit workability and finishing. Normal procedures for screeding. finishing operations may have to be delayed.

The proper application of a curing compound should retain moisture in the concrete for a sufficient period of time to permit strength development. Normal curing practices should be adequate for concrete containing Class F fly ash. .for conventional concrete.