New Ash Beneficial Use Center in Georgia to offer investigations of coal ash technologies

Published on August 12, 2021 by Chris Galford

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Following a collaboration between Georgia Power, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and Southern Company, the Ash Beneficial Use Center opened at Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen this year, allowing a locale for pilot testing new technologies to increase the beneficial use of coal ash.

The new center, also known as ABUC, will host projects and provide testing for technologies that could one day develop useful products from recycled coal combustion products (CCPs) such as coal ash, which tends to accumulate in landfills and closed-in-place ponds. It’s the first large-scale center of its kind and will focus on commercial applications, technological development, and providing a better understanding of re-use products’ capabilities and cost.

“As a part of our ash pond closure efforts, Georgia Power is always looking for opportunities to use coal ash that are not only beneficial to our customers but for our communities and environment,” Dr. Mark Berry, vice president of environmental and natural resources for Georgia Power, said. “The Ash Beneficial Use Center is paving the way for the latest coal ash technologies. We hope to see closed ash ponds and landfills become resources as new and improved uses are developed and proven through this center.”

If such excess can be fully utilized, it could bring potential economic benefits and environmental ones as well. Current CCPs are generally products of operating power plants, and finding ways to recycle them could aid the clean energy transition.

Georgia Power itself recycles more than 85 percent of its ash and gypsum produced from current operations. So far, this tends to go toward reuses such as in construction products, namely concrete.