Ashcor vice-president and general manager Kelly Babichuk holds some fly ash at the company’s processing plant near Forestburg, east of Red Deer. Photo by Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.
Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.
An ATCO company’s new plant east of Red Deer is turning waste into profit, producing a climate-friendly product for the construction industry.
Ashcor Technologies has been in the business of taking fly ash — a byproduct of coal-burning electricity generation plants — and marketing it for use as a cement supplement in concrete for more than two decades.
Carbon taxes and other climate change regulations around the world have been shifting electrical generation away from coal in favour of other energy sources, putting fly ash in short supply.
Ashcor, however, has a made-in-Alberta solution, providing a new supply of fly ash amid rising demand for it in concrete production.
“We think we have a pretty exciting opportunity to capitalize on an industry shift by bringing a novel technology to the marketplace to meet growing demand,” says Kelly Babichuk, general manager at Ashcor.
That opportunity is Ashcor’s new, state-of-the-art facility near Forestburg. The technology refines old fly ash, and bottom ash — another byproduct from coal burning — that had been deposited in landfills, old mines and holding ponds.
The new RAM — reclaimed ash management — plant uses patent-pending technology to refine this discarded fly and bottom ash, which is plentiful, to create more of the concrete-enhancing product.
“We are definitely one of the world leaders in this field,” Babichuk says.
Fly ash — and bottom ash that has been refined at the new plant — can typically replace up to 30 per cent of the cement used in concrete, which is good for the environment.
“Cement manufacturing is very carbon intensive,” he says. “So, for every ton of cement we displace in the concrete manufacturing process, we’re reducing the CO2 footprint by about a ton, too.”
Not only is this ash product more environmentally friendly, Babichuk says, it also makes concrete more durable. At the same time, it addresses the environmental risks associated with old ash discarded in ponds, mines and landfills.
Another upside to the endeavour is it’s a made-in-Alberta success story, Babichuk says.
“Given all that’s gone on with the economy here, it’s nice to make lemonade out of lemons.”
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.