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How can Indian companies capitalise on international coal ash markets?

Vivek Taneja, Head of Business Development and Strategic Initiatives, Thermax, and Dr Anjan K Chatterjee, Chairman, Conmat Technologies Pvt Ltd talk to Coaltrans about India's position in the global ash market

What are the destinations to which the 6 mil mt of fly ash is shipped from India? How much can the volume increase given the demand in these places?

Dr Anjan K Chatterjee (AKC): About 60% of the total exports goes to Bangladesh for their cement grinding plants. Other countries include Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kenya, Seychelles, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Nepal etc. It is difficult to estimate the potential export market but it is evident that the opportunities exist for the expanding markets in South East Asia, Africa and the Middle Eastern countries.

Vivek Taneja (VT): Apart from direct Fly ash exports as mentioned there is a small quantum of value added products like LWA also starting from India. Primarily it is for the Middle East markets where aggregates and construction sand is not available.  Also the markets in Hong Kong and a few high rise construction markets in SEA are looking at lighter density material. India is being looked upon as an ideal source due to abundance of Fly ash and value addition options apart from Fly ash itself. The quantum is negligible now, being a new area, but has huge potential going ahead.

As MOEF has mandated to use 100% FA but utilisation hasn't risen >50-55%. Any scientific study of using FA in active mine void which will increase 100% utilisation?

AKC: Of the total Fly Ash used, about 13% is already going for mine filling. Several academic and research institutions in India are engaged in finding newer avenues for the application of fly ash. It appears that there could be some breakthroughs in the use of fly ash in agro-forestry including reclamation of fallow land and production of newer building products including geopolymer cements and concretes.

VT: Maharashtra is the first state and Mahagenco the first state utility that has come out with a clear 100% Fly ash utilization policy. NTPC has drafted its own Ash utilization policy that covers that two of the largest thermal power generators. This is a good start. The realization has seeped in that the construction industry itself has the potential to take most of the FA produced and that the benefits of this are multi-pronged with biggest being that of reduction of cooling load which will have immense environment benefits. The technologies available now can use up to 90% of raw material as Fly ash in most building material options. Given the fact that India is a market of about 700 billion tons of walling material alone, entire Fly ash generated can only replace 50% of walling material alone thus saving 300 bn tones of virgin material to be mined and millions of tons of carbon emissions to convert raw material to walling or flooring material without use of high intensity primary energy as is being done today.

Geo polymer cement is another large usage option that can consume the entire Fly ash being generated.

Is there any possibility to use fly ash for aluminium plant? If yes, what should be the factors specially Al. Oxides present in ash for the viability?

AKC: The technology for extraction of alumina from fly ash has been developed in the laboratory scale in India but no scale-up has been attempted, primarily due to the abundance of bauxite in India, which forms the basic raw material for the aluminum industry.

VT: More than Alumina due to reasons specified by Mr. Chatterjee, there is some study underway for removal of rarer elements like Vanadium, etc. (that I am aware of) which may have higher chances of commercial viability.

Q&A based on a panel discussion from the 16th Coaltrans India, which took place on 20 - 22 February 2016 in Delhi.

 You can learn more about the global ash market at Ashtrans Europe, taking place in Sitges on 26 - 27 October.


This content is provided by Coaltrans Conferences for informational purposes only, and it reflects the market and industry conditions and presenter’s opinions and affiliations available at the time of the presentation.

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