The use of fly ash to make a building material

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Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute

In recent years there has been considerable development along the lines or using coal powdered to a fineness resembling talcum powder for the production of power in practically all the new and larger power plants. This pulverized coal burns similarly to gas when blown into the combustion chamber. Because or the fineness of the individual particles of coal, a very fine ash termed "fly ash" is formed when combustion occurs, a large portion of which is carried on up and out the smoke stack.

The "fly ash," if allowed to go up the stack and out over the surrounding territory, becomes a health hazard as well as a nuisance to the cleanliness of the community. The average fly ash is about fifty per cent silica (SiO₂) which should classify it as a silicosis hazard. To avoid this nuisance and hazard, the fly ash may be collected in one of several ways, the most important being by electrostatic precipitation, wet scrubbing, and with cyclone separators. It must then either be used or disposed of.

Several attempts have been made to use fly ash for some useful purpose, but it is not adaptable for filling in, for road construction, or for similar uses made of clinker ash.

In this investigation, an attempt has been made to determine the optimum conditions of both the process and composition which should be used in the manufacture or a building material from fly ash, and special reference will be made to the ash of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Power Plant, Blacksburg, Virginia.