Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS) may be staring at a major environmental crisis. Fly ash, the easily airborne byproduct of coal combustion, produced at the state’s largest thermal power plant was until now being carefully stockpiled in its backyard. But running out of space, the energy department is now looking to import technology from Germany to clear up the stock, scientifically.
The department officials, led by energy minister DK Shivakumar, have been visiting various fly ash sites across Germany and other European countries.
Kumar Naik, managing director of Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd (KPCL), which owns thermal units across the state, is also accompanying the minister and holding talks with European agencies over methods of disposal of accumulated fly ash.
The idea is to adopt a feasible scientific method to cope with similar challenges at new thermal plants in Ballari and Raichur.
Sources in KPCL told Mirror that RTPS currently dumps its fly ash in a 1,000-acre site. “There are two plots of 500 acres each were we have been dumping the fly ash. One plot is filled to the brim while the other almost half full. It is not possible to acquire any more land for dumping because of the costs involved. Besides, people are going to protest, if we do.
So, a scientific way of disposal may be the only way out,” said the senior electrical engineer.
The nearly weightless fly ash can cause severe air pollution in the vicinity and so officials have been using a lot of water to dampen the ash and transport it to the dumping site. “Mere ash cannot be transported anywhere as it gets airborne easily. Also, there are legal bindings on safe disposal and transport of fly ash. Hence, it is carried in the form of slurry of bottom ash and deposited at the site. What we are looking at now is a technology to process that waste instead of just transporting and dump it at a site. It’ll save a huge quantity of water too,” energy minister Shivakumar told Mirror from Germany.
According to Shivakumar, the department’s delegation last week visited Germany’s major fly ash treatment and deposition plant at Leipzig and was told about the latest technology through which ash can be processed scientifically.
THE GERMAN WAY
“The site is currently managed by MUEG Company which completely takes care of collection of ash to final processing at the original site itself. Using their patented technology, they have been successfully treating the ash before it gets dumped at a designated place. The method is ecofriendly and not water-intensive. Just by adding a chemical agent, the ash is converted into a ready concrete. It does not require any other external agent for further strengthening. Due to its molten state, it can easily be transported anywhere or used in application. They have developed three to four different methods of treating fly ash and depending on the requirement we can adopt any of them,” Shivakumar explained.
The company has been treating ash at its plants in Lochau and Peres. “The treated ash has application in several industries as it blends with the general climatic conditions without causing any ecological imbalance. Be it filter ash, wet ash or slurry, they treat it effectively. Making use of the treated fly ash, they have been filling cavities in railway and water supply tunnels; and they’ve used it during asphalting of roads. In fact, they have used the fly ash to construct the A72 motorway in Germany. Besides, the bunds of several lakes have been built using fly ash materials. The internal layer of almost all water canals was built using processed fly ash,” a senior officer accompanying the minister said.
Shivakumar revealed that currently the utilisation of fly ash is only about 40 to 45 per cent. “What we do now is mix it with other agents such as cement or other substances to make it into bricks. But by adopting this German technology, we not only require huge amounts of water to treat the ash. We should also be able to clear up the pile in less than a few years. As per the Supreme Court order, fly ash has to be utilised 100 per cent and this new technology allows us to comply with that order,” he said. Evan Boehm JerseyShare This