Evaluation of Leachates from Coal Refuse Blended with Fly Ash at Different Rates
There is great interest in returning coal combustion products to mining sites for beneficial reuse as liming agents. A column study examined the effects of blending two coal fly ashes with an acid-forming coal refuse (4% pyritic S). Both fly ashes were net alkaline, but had relatively low neutralizing capacities. One ash with moderate alkalinity (CRF) was bulk blended with coal refuse at 0, 20, and 33% (w/w), while another lower alkalinity ash (WVF) was blended at 0, 5, 10, 20, and 33% (w/w). The columns were leached (unsaturated) weekly with 2.5 cm of simulated precipitation for >150 wk. Where high amounts of ash alkalinity (>20% w/w) were mixed with the coal refuse, pyrite oxidation was controlled and leachate pH was >7.0 with low metal levels throughout the study. At lower rates of alkalinity loading, trace metals were sequentially released from the WVF ash as the 5, 10, and 20% treatments acidified due to pyrite oxidation. Lechate metals increased in proportion to the total amounts applied in the ash. In this strongly acidic environment, metals such as Mn, Fe, and Cu were dissolved and leached from the ash matrix in large quantities. If ash is to be beneficially reused in the reclamation of acid-producing coal refuse, the alkalinity and potential acidity of the materials must be balanced through the appropriate addition of lime or other alkaline materials to the blend. Highly potentially acidic refuse material, such as that used here, may not be suitable for ash/refuse codisposal scenarios.