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New Uses for Coal Byproducts

The dry coal ash produced by fossil fuel plants isn't just waste—the gypsum, fly ash and slag it contains can be sold for reuse in commercial building materials and more.

  • In 2009, TVA made a $1.5 to 2 billion commitment to transfer all coal ash storage at fossil fuel plants to dry storage.
  • Dry coal byproducts have commercial applications, enabling TVA to sell them while encouraging recycling and reuse
  • Fly ash can be used in wallboard; gypsum can be used in cement.
  • Slag can be used in abrasives and in roofing materials.

In 2008, TVA faced one of the worst disasters in its 82-year history—the spill of wet coal byproducts at the Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant near Kingston, Tenn. Since then, the company has worked tirelessly to ensure that nothing like that could ever happen again.

In 2009, TVA’s board of directors passed a resolution to phase out wet storage coal byproduct facilities and convert them to dry storage facilities—for all of its 11 coal-fired plants—at a cost of $1.5 to $2 billion. As of early 2016, $750 million has been spent in that effort.

Luckily, dry coal byproducts—fly ash, gypsum and slag—have commercial applications, and can be sold. For instance, slag can be used in abrasives and roofing materials, fly ash can be used in wallboard and gypsum can be used in cement.

In 2012 and 2013, TVA marketed 2.3 million tons of dry coal byproducts—putting them to good use for a better tomorrow.