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LafargeHolcim in the US, Geocycle and CenterPoint Energy to recycle power-plant coal ash from landfill for use in cement manufacturing

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World Cement,

LafargeHolcim in the US, its subsidiary, Geocycle, and CenterPoint Energy, Inc. have announced a major milestone in their multi-year initiative with the first barge shipment of power plant coal ash, part of a project which will result in the recovery and recycling of more than six million tons of coal ash for beneficial reuse in producing cement.

LafargeHolcim, Geocycle and CenterPoint Energy have invested on a combined basis over US$80 million in infrastructure to remove, process, transport, store and recycle the coal ash produced at CenterPoint Energy’s A.B. Brown generating station in Evansville, Indiana, for use at LafargeHolcim’s flagship cement plant in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri – reducing the cement plant’s consumption of natural materials, such as clay and sand.

“This milestone is a tangible example of how industry participants together can develop creative and efficient solutions that contribute to the circular economy. Together, LafargeHolcim, Geocycle and CenterPoint Energy will avoid landfilling for power plants and reduce the consumption of non-renewable raw materials. This is a clear win-win for people and our planet,” said Toufic Tabbara, CEO, US Cement for LafargeHolcim in the US.

The teams recently achieved the first barge shipment of nearly 2000 tons of the reclaimed material, containing mostly bottom ash with some fly ash, from the 165-acre pond at CenterPoint Energy’s A.B. Brown plant. Geocycle has managed the ongoing initiative between LafargeHolcim and CenterPoint Energy since 2009.

“Our multi-year initiative with LafargeHolcim and Geocycle has been the ideal solution as it has allowed for the material to be removed from the environment and used for beneficial purposes,” said Steve Greenley, Senior Vice President, Indiana Electric Operations for CenterPoint Energy. “CenterPoint Energy’s decision to recycle the coal ash has reduced the impact on the environment and allowed for a choice with less financial impact than other compliance options.”

Used as fuel for one-quarter of electricity generation in America, coal creates two kinds of combustion waste: fly ash and bottom ash, a sandy sludge. According to the American Coal Ash Association, only 52% of the 78.6 million tons of coal ash produced in electricity generation in 2019 was beneficially reused. The balance – 37.6 million tons –was disposed of in landfills or retention ponds. There are more than 2 billion tons of landfilled ash in the US. To mitigate environmental risks, federal regulations are mandating the closure of ash ponds and encouraging the recycling of the materials to achieve environmental and economic benefits.

With careful material sourcing and testing, this initiative advances the treatment of ponded coal-ash material for beneficial reuse in the production of more environmentally friendly concrete mixes. This beneficiation technology, which included trials on CenterPoint Energy’s ponded coal ash, is being deployed in select markets that are experiencing fly-ash shortages due to the ongoing retirement of coal-fired power plants in the US.

“This significant circular-economy relationship with CenterPoint Energy is a powerful example of how our Geocycle recycling management business seeks out innovative solutions to turn our nation’s ecosystem challenges into opportunities that contribute value to our operations and advance our leadership commitment to a Net Zero future,” said Sophie Wu, Head of Geocycle North America.

Since 2009, Geocycle has managed the ongoing supply of nearly 1.5 million t of dry fly-ash waste from CenterPoint Energy’s A.B. Brown, F.B. Culley and Warrick generating stations for beneficial reuse at the Ste. Genevieve cement plant. This barge shipment represents the next phase in the long-term collaborative relationship between the companies.

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