Happy age of cheap oil and gas is coming to the end. The increasing number of people on the Earth, from ordinary citizens to big businessmen and governments, is aware of this deplorable fact. And realizing this, they begin finding the ways to prevent impending energy famine. The projects of using the wind, solar, tidal and volcanoes energy appear as the result of such searches. They even try to convert the wastes into energy.

All these projects are very useful in the terms of mind exercising. But at the same time they are rather enlightening as an illustration of the futility of people’s attempts. In fact, the wind is very changeable element that doesn’t want to blow strongly and smoothly around the clock. The sun provides enough energy only in cloudless day and only in a narrow band around the equator. You couldn’t obtain a lot of energy from the tides, to deal with the volcanoes is rather dangerous. Burning of wastes, reducing the severity of some problems, immediately creates other – environmental – because you have to do something with toxic smoke of burning plastic and toxic slag.


Against this joyless background the idea of getting energy from the so-called secondary or man-made deposits looks very optimistic. Namely – the extraction of unburned coal from the TPP ash dump. Alternative name is “ash recycling”.

The potential of this line is driven by the following factors:

  • Usability. Secondary coal can be used on the coal based TPP infrastructure already existing in the Nordic countries. It is not necessary to develop, design and build new power plants; there is no need even in the reconstruction of furnaces and boilers.
  • Significant amount of accumulated material. During several centuries the European industry was holding on coal. Within this time an impressive amount of ash and slag was accumulated. Despite all the success of the ash dumps recycling programs, the millions of tons of ash remains today in the deposits. Even with a minimum content of unburned coal (5%), the processing of these deposits can provide European countries with energy for decades.
  • A comprehensive approach, providing high efficiency of the process. Separation of coal and ash allows getting from one illiquid product two highly liquid ones: clean low ash coal and conditioned ash purified from coal. So we obtain high quality coal, because it had been high-temperature processed in the furnace of TPP. The high temperature vaporized from this coal all the volatile components, including organosulfur compounds. Generally speaking, we are dealing with a coke – high-energy fuel with a high calorific value. Ash, purified of coal, immediately transforms into the effective hydraulic additive being willingly bought by the producers of cement, concrete, dry mixes and other materials.
  • The complexity also will be demonstrated by the fact that, besides solving the problems of energy security, ash processing also can solve environmental problems, because ash is a chemically active substance, containing a lot of unpleasant compounds capable to contaminate soil and groundwater. Ash recycling leads to the physical disappearance of the ash dump as a source of environmental pollution. Instead, there appears free land parcel, which can be used for construction, agriculture or other equally useful purposes.
  • And, complementarily: complex processing of ash allows extracting from it, except coal, a lot of precious substances. These include: ferrosilicium, magnetite, silica fume (white carbon), and aluminum and titanium oxides. Ash contains a smaller but recoverable amount of the vanadium, chromium, rare earth metals (very necessary in wind power engineering – because without them it is impossible to make powerful magnets for wind turbines). For some sorts of ash the profits from the sale of such trace contaminants can greatly exceed the cost of coal and ash.