One way Duke Energy is creating a sustainable, smarter energy future is by recycling coal ash and other byproducts, such as gypsum, to help our customers and the environment.
Coal ash, formed when coal is burned to generate electricity, can be used in a range of building products and as a structural fill material in place of soil or other mined materials. Gypsum, produced in the process to lower emissions from coal power plants, is recycled and used in wallboard for the construction industry, as a raw material in the production of cement or as a soil amendment and/or soil stabilizer in agriculture.
In 2018, Duke Energy reused more than 1.8 million tons of ash and more than 3 million tons of gypsum. This includes material produced at our plants during the year as well as harvested material from landfills and stockpiles.
Benefits for customers and communities
Recycling coal ash and gypsum turns a waste into a benefit by:
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Building stronger structures
- Supporting local economic growth
- Lowering costs for customers compared to disposal in a new location
Coal ash is a valuable additive to cement and concrete, making bridges, roads and structures stronger and more durable. Many of the world’s greenest and most energy-efficient buildings have been constructed with products containing coal ash.
Duke Energy’s recycling projects have included using gypsum in wallboard manufacturing, using ash as structural fill for an airport in Asheville, N.C. and providing ash from our Dan River and Weatherspoon plants to regional cement manufacturing facilities. Since ash often needs additional processing to meet the specifications for concrete, we’re also installing reprocessing units at a number of sites to help meet growing concrete demand for the product.
Finding ways to recycle even more coal ash
Recycling is a priority at Duke Energy, so we’re continually looking for new opportunities to recycle even more coal ash, including ash now stored in basins when doing so makes sense for our customers. We’re partnering with technology companies, universities and industry organizations to explore new markets and innovative uses, such as road asphalt, blocks and pavers made with coal ash. It’s all part of improving our communities, the environment and the economy.
To learn more, visit duke-energy/ashmanagement.