New PFA Quality Protocol – a step towards increased PFA use?

New PFA Quality Protocol – a step towards increased PFA use?
Published: 11 October 2010

The Waste Protocol Project, a joint initiative between Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the Environment Agency and the power industry, has launched its Pulverised Fuel Ash Quality Protocol (QP). The QP sets end-of-waste criteria for the production and use of pulverised fuel ash (PFA) arising from coal combustion to be used in applications such as cement manufacture.

Currently, the UK cement industry uses around 600,000t of PFA in the production process as it aims to reduce its CO2 emissions. About 12Mta of cement is produced in the UK with 5% could include PFA used as a ‘minor additional constituent’. According to the Waste Protocol Project, the industry could see this figure rise to surpass the 1.573Mt mark if the full effects of a new quality standard are felt and as a result, 27% PFA could be added to around 30% of UK-produced cement. In addition, PFA used could also be extended in the aggregate secdtor.

Dr Mervyn Jones, Head of Production & Procurement, WRAP, stated: “Conforming to the new Quality Protocol removes the waste stigma associated with PFA and FBA. It enables better regulation, ensures consistent quality and will stimulate market confidence. These factors will all help the industry grow existing markets for this quality recycled material.”

Martin Brocklehurst, Head of Environment and Business Partnerships at EA, said: “We are delighted to have worked with DEFRA, WRAP and the power industry to agree an end of waste position for pulverised fuel ash. This is a classic example of better risk-based regulation in action. Our regulatory decision is based on real scientific evidence that indicates this material can be safely used as a product. The quality protocol standard ensures that both human health and the environment are safeguarded and that this valuable material can be reprocessed into a quality product which can be reused, rather than buried in landfill.”

At present, around half of the PFA produced in the UK is sent to expensive monofill storage sites. It is expected that the QP will be instrumental in diverting a significant amount, in the region of an estimated 3.128Mt, of the UK’s largest industrial waste-stream from landfill. Moreover, the QP will also save an estimated 4.41Mt of virgin material being excavated, rendering considerable environmental and cost benefits for users such as cement companies. The total carbon savings are forecast to be around 162,000t over the first decade.