North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University researchers are looking for different ways to recycle coal ash.
Coal ash is what's left after coal is burned to make electricity. It can be a harmful waste product when it is not stored correctly or when it escapes into waterways, as it did at the Dan River in 2014.
However, when it’s recycled, coal ash can be used as a component in concrete and other construction products.
NC A&T researcher Kunigal Shivakumar thinks it can be used to make more commercially viable products, as well.
“We are focused on the higher end, the high value products where it could become a cross arm for example or it could become sound barrier walls,” he said.
Shivakumar and researcher Wade Brown have been working on alternatives uses for coal ash since 2015. He said he wants it to be used for more than just “low cost products” like cement or bricks.
“Our focus is toward the high valued products,” he said. “That's where we see the value and we can get the benefits at the same time develop new products for commercial use.”
Shivakumar is currently exploring how to use coal ash to make sound barriers for highways.