Ironically the fly ash coal waste can protect concrete from acid rain caused by coal and oil air pollution

More than 450 coal-burning electric power plants in the United States produce about 130 million tons of “flyash” each year. Before air pollution laws, those fine particles of soot and dust flew up smokestacks and into the air. Power plants now collect the ash.

This waste could become a valuable resource as a shield-like coating to keep concrete from deteriorating and crumbling as it ages. Laboratory tests have shown that the coating has excellent strength and durability when exposed to heat, cold, rain, and other simulated environmental conditions harsher than any that would occur in the real world, Carraher said. The coating protected concrete from deterioration, for instance, that involved exposure to the acids in air pollution that were 100,000 times more concentrated than typical outdoor levels environment. Coated concrete remained strong and intact for more than a year of observation, while ordinary concrete often began to crumble within days.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates for the cost for repair, restoration, and replacement of concrete in domestic wastewater and drinking water systems. They range up to $1.3 trillion, and by some accounts must be completed by 2020 to avoid environmental and public health crisis problems. Crumbling concrete roads and bridges will require hundreds of billions more.

Use of the coating could extend the lifespan of those structures, with enormous savings, while helping to solve the flyash disposal problem

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