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UKQAA appoints new Director…

Dr Nigel Cooke will replace Dr Robert Carroll as our Director from the end of July.


As the country’s leading authority on the use of quality ash in construction and engineering applications we represent a range of members from across the construction supply chain.


Dr Robert Carroll has led the UKQAA since 2012 and has helped to shape the association’s strategy, overseeing the expansion of membership to include overseas ash producers and suppliers. During his directorship, Rob has also been vital in developing sources of ash supply following the continued closure of coal fired power stations in the UK, including supporting the growth of importation and ash recovery.


Dr Cooke will assume his responsibilities at the end of July with more than 30 years’ experience of working within the building materials sector, including time spent at Blue Circle Industries and Lafarge. He brings with him considerable global experience, including involvement in a number of cementitious initiatives across Europe, Russia, South East Asia and Japan. During his time with Blue Circle/Lafarge in the UK, he was responsible for setting up ash beneficiation projects and logistics facilities with ScottishPower, EDF Energy, RWE nPower and Drax Power. This Knowledge will be fundamental to the continued growth of both ash recovery and importation from new markets to meet UK demand for high quality ash.


Our Chair, Ivan Skidmore, says: “Rob has been a great asset to the UKQAA and a superb champion for the use of quality ash across the UK. During his time with the association, we’ve seen change sweep the industry as ash availability has moved away from the big coal stations and towards stockpile recovery and importation. Rob has helped steer the UKQAA members through this ongoing transition, providing technical and logistical guidance throughout, so we’re hugely grateful for his time at the helm.


“While we’re sorry to see Rob leave, we’re delighted to welcome Nigel to the UKQAA. Nigel’s commercial experience, as well as his knowledge of global projects and supply chains, will be vital as the market continues to adapt. His insight and knowledge will not only allow us to continue to advocate the use of this important resource, but continue to explore new opportunities to use and source quality ash.”


Dr Nigel Cooke says: “I’m delighted to be joining the UKQAA and continuing the work of the association. There are some big challenges ahead such as securing the supply chain for ash and adapting to changing environmental legislation. Based on my initial meetings with members of the association, I am, however, very much encouraged by the innovative approaches being taken with regards to maximising existing resources as well as identifying potential import opportunities. As a consequence of such activities, I am confident that ash will continue to play an important role within the UK construction sector for many years to come.


“I would also like to thank Rob for his drive and commitment during these difficult times and I would like to wish him and his family all the very best for the future.”


Dr Robert Carroll says: “I’d like to thank the UKQAA membership for all their support and involvement over the years. The organisation continues to go from strength-to-strength and I wish them all the very best under Nigel’s leadership.”

We’re delighted to announce we’ve gone international

From October, the UKQAA will be able to accept members from overseas. As the market for quality ash continues to grow, we believe the importation of ash will have an important role to play in the future.


While our main role is to protect and maintain UK production and supply, the transition away from coal-fired power over the next five years will have an impact on supply if we don’t intervene. Importation from around the world has huge potential and we believe our technical advice, guidance, and expertise can help to safeguard future supplies of quality ash – a material that continues to enjoy considerable demand from the construction industry, and for very good reason.


Over the next few months we’ll be working with our partners and the wider membership to welcome new members into the UKQAA fold. We’ll also be looking closely at the logistical issues an increase in importation could bring and ensure the quality of imported ash matches the high standards we expect at home. This isn’t an overnight solution, but will help to provide long-term stability.


This is a hugely exciting time for the UKQAA and our membership, and we look forward to working with partners from overseas. For more information [contact us].

Spring 2016 Ash Statement

Fly ash is a key ingredient of sustainable construction and we recognise the ash market has an important role to play in diversifying supply and supporting new infrastructure projects.


At present, the ash marketplace is shifting – particularly with regards to fresh ash. In the short term, mild weather, low gas prices, and the unexpected closure of coal-fired units have reduced ash production. In the longer term further power station closures and the Government’s current energy policy will affect the availability of fresh ash.


UKQAA members are however prepared for this and changes in supply should not impact the construction industry’s ability to deliver sustainable infrastructure projects in the UK.


While some stocks of fresh ash are temporarily limited locally, fresh fly ash can be procured and easily transported from a number of sites across the UK and Europe. The import market in particular is growing and the industry is already benefitting from the excellent ash management skills and emerging infrastructure that exists in the UK.


The industry is also developing stockpile supply streams. This involves making use of existing material deposited in ashfields across the UK – either from operating or decommissioned stations. Amounting to approximately 50 million tonnes of ash, there are strong opportunities to open up new supply routes. To that end, UKQAA is sponsoring a research and development project into the potential for enhancing stockpile material, and we’re confident about its potential to further boost availability.


Ultimately, change in the materials market is nothing new, and material supply in general is becoming increasingly challenging due to the resurgence in the economy and the resulting uplift in construction activity. Fly ash will continue to play an important role in supplying high performance, low-carbon material, offering significant benefits to specifiers and designers. Ash is part of a sustainable materials mix and ultimately the marketplace can respond flexibly to change.

Recent announcements

The UKQAA notes the recent announcements of the intention to close Rugeley Power Station and the possible closure of three units at Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station. Any closures will have an effect on the output of particular grades of fly ash and furnace bottom ash in the UK but at this stage it is not possible to gauge the full extent of any changes.


The UKQAA will continue to strive to maximise the beneficial use of coal ashes in the UK, whether obtained directly from coal-fired units, or recovered from the many ash stockpiles sited throughout the country.

New Year, new opportunities

With the publication of the UKQAA Ash Availability Report today, it’s clear the ash industry – and the wider construction and engineering sectors – have significant opportunities ahead. Not only has supply and demand for coal ash as a beneficial addition to construction products and materials been consistent, but research and development into its use are also driving innovation and technical ambition.


Based on production and usage data from coal-fired power stations between 1999 and 2014, the UKQAA Ash Availability Report highlights important trends in ash availability and uptake. From steady production, to increasingly varied applications, the figures show that the ash industry has a diverse supply stream and strong potential in the alternative, low-carbon materials market.


Set in the context of ongoing growth in the construction and engineering sectors which is affected by increased pressure on supply chains, materials shortages and stringent environmental targets, this report shows an excellent opportunity for the producers and users to exploit all sources of coal ash.


Fly ash and furnace bottom ash are high-performance materials which are resource efficient to extract and manufacture. Both by products have low levels of embodied carbon and can significantly improve the environmental performance of construction products.


While these benefits are clear and the market for alternative materials is widening, the challenge now is to make sure they are fully realised.

CCS: Not capturing the moment

Yesterday’s announcement that the Government has withdrawn £1bn of financial support for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) was disappointing. While the Government is looking to realign energy policy and focus on short-term cost-efficiencies, it does seem to be to the detriment of innovative, low-carbon technologies.


CCS is a technically sophisticated approach to the low-carbon energy generation. It could yield up to a 90 per cent reduction in the CO2 emissions from burning pulverised coal, while safe-guarding a reliable and affordable source of energy generation. As such, CCS could make a valuable contribution to achieving a low-carbon energy mix.


What’s more, the high quality ashes produced as a by-product of generation could be readily utilised as low-carbon constituents of sustainable construction products. These can help us to develop more environmentally friendly buildings and infrastructure in the UK and safeguard finite raw materials.


So our question is this, with an unstable gas market, uncertainties regarding renewables  and new nuclear in its infancy, is now not the time to be thinking smarter about the way we plan to safeguard affordable, low-carbon energy in the future, while tackling ever increasing demand?


What’s more, while we continue to support zero waste to landfill generation, should we not be encouraging new ways for the production and delivery of energy to be more efficient and sustainable?


Energy, like coal ash supplies, is currently secure but that shouldn’t stop us from developing, diversifying and innovating, harnessing opportunities and promoting a low-carbon future.

The UKQAA’s response to today’s Government announcement on planned closures of coal-fired power stations

Dr Robert Carroll, Technical Director here at the UKQAA said today:


“While the planned closures of coal-fired power stations in the UK will have a significant impact on the UK’s future energy mix, the UKQAA is confident about the supply of coal ashes (fly ash and furnace bottom ash) for construction products both now and in the foreseeable future.


The UK’s coal-fired power stations produce an average of five million tonnes of fly ash a year and annual supply continues to outstrip use. Additionally, around 50 million tonnes of stockpiled ash has been amassed over the years. This mostly untapped resource could become a valuable complementary raw material if correctly processed.


Ultimately, the UKQAA aim to maximise the beneficial use of coal fly ashes over the next decade and support recovery of raw material from ash stockpiles.”


Should you have any concerns please feel free to contact us or speak to your supplier.

UKQAA Welcomes New Member Hope Construction Materials

AGM - HopeMike Bull (far right), Technical & Product Development Director of Hope Construction Materials, was given a warm welcome by members at the association’s AGM on 22 July 2015 held at E.ON’s Ratcliffe Power Station as Hope join as an Associate Member.


Hope Construction Materials is an independent producer of cement, readymix concrete
and aggregates and uses ash in several of their products.


We are sure the addition of Mike and his colleagues to our Executive, Technical
and Marketing Committees will only serve to strengthen the UKQAA team.


The 58th General Assembly of ECOBA, the European association for coal combustion products, took place in Madrid on 28 and 29 May 2015. The event also marked the 25th Anniversary of the association’s work promoting the technical and environmental benefits of by-products such as fly ash and furnace bottom ash (FBA).


A wide range of topics were discussed in the formal and technical sessions over the two days. This included the development of technical standards, European regulations, environmental issues and production statistics.


Ivan Skidmore of Power Minerals Limited, a member company of the UKQAA, was elected as the new president of ECOBA. Angelo Saraber of Vliegasunie was elected as vice president. So congratulations to both Ivan and Angelo and every success in their new roles within ECOBA.

World of Coal Ash 2015 (WOCA) Conference

Nashville, Tennessee, 5 – 7 May 2015


This interesting conference was organised by the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA) and the Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), University of Kentucky and I attended to present a paper and as a delegate.


Papers were presented on such diverse topics as the beneficial use of coal construction products (CCP’s) in cement and concrete, regulations, extraction of rare earth elements (REE’s) and agricultural uses. Over 800 delegates attended, with many visitors from outside the USA.


Several papers stressed the great potential of extracting fly ash from stockpiles and lagoons, or ponds in US terminology, and processing the material to obtain products for the construction industry. This recovery and beneficial use of fly ash contributes to sustainable construction and would help to maintain the availability of fly ash. A readily available complementary source of fly ash would help to reduce seasonal supply variability.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced new regulations to control storage and disposal of CCP’s in the USA. These materials will be controlled under “subtitle D” of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and are considered non-hazardous. Rules exist to ensure the structural stability of storage facilities such as stockpiles and lagoons, with inspection regimes and corrective actions detailed. Groundwater monitoring procedures are also specified. This approach has the advantage of protecting local communities and the environment, without classifying CCP’s as hazardous which would reduce significantly the beneficial use of coal ashes in the USA.


A more unusual application for fly ash considered at the conference was as a source of industrial minerals. This ranged from aluminium extraction to obtaining REE’s and other scarce strategic metals. For example, neodymium and dysprosium are critical for the permanent magnets which are used in many modern electronic devices. Within particular ashes, RRE’s may be at high enough concentrations to make extraction worthwhile.


Robert Carroll – Technical Director UKQAA

20 May 2015