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Utilities Look to Innovative Bottom Ash Conversion Alternatives
Innovation is driving massive change within the electric power generation industry, and alternatives for bottom ash conversion systems, or the process of removing ash from coal‑fired boilers, are no exception. Bottom ash is traditionally handled wet and placed into wet impoundments/ponds for disposal. This introduces the risk of groundwater contamination and dam safety issues inherent with such storage of any material.
Prompted by increasing risks of spills and impoundment breaches, as well as growing environmental awareness, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its coal combustion residual (CCR) requirements and effluent limitation guidelines (ELG). Utilities now are examining options to determine which technologies to implement within their power plants to achieve compliance.
“Many utilities have outdated systems that require expensive repairs to continue operating, or they are looking to convert processes to new technology,” says Steven Hibbard, a senior mechanical engineer at Burns & McDonnell. “Finding a solution that meets both the new CCR management rules and ELG updates is critical to preventing unnecessary headaches.”
While there are a variety of alternatives, the plant’s design should inform the right approach. Plant operators should factor in current infrastructure, budget considerations and scheduling impacts before selecting an approach.