Environmental Protection

Oak Ridge Calls for Coal Ash Strategy Proposals

Coal ash spills in Tennessee and Pennsylvania have heightened awareness of the need for effective strategies to address the byproducts of coal combustion processes. A new research opportunity funded by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and managed by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) has been established and a call for proposals is being announced, according to a July 7 press release.

This solicitation is intended for basic and applied research on:

  • Alternative ways to contain, handle and process coal combustion products (CCPs)
  • Characterizing the properties of CCPs to enable more of them to be reused
  • The effects of coal fly ash releases into the environment
ORAU will manage an independent proposal review and the grant process and has established a Research Opportunity Web site for submissions. The site includes descriptions of the focus areas of interest for proposals, as well as information about funding and eligibility requirements, content guidelines, the review process, and selection criteria.

Support for CCP proposals on the management of CCPs may be in the form of grants, subsidies or TVA in-kind services. The number of investigations supported and the total amount of support awarded will depend on the nature and quality of proposals submitted, the potential for commercial application, and the potential economic or environmental benefit.

Funding levels for proposals on the environmental effects of CCPs are expected to be $1 million per year for three years, with awards potentially ranging from $50,000 to $300,000 or more for one to three years. The number of awards will depend on the nature of proposals received, but is expected to be at least three and as many as 10.

Eligibility for the funding is open to colleges and universities, research institutions, private companies and qualified individual researchers.

"The proposals with the highest technical merit will win the opportunity to explore ways to facilitate the scientifically sound development of new beneficial uses for CCPs and the creation of new environmental information," said Robb Turner, peer review manager at ORAU. "The knowledge will be useful not only to TVA but also to the utility industry, regulators, and the public."

In 2007, the coal-fueled electric power industry generated almost 72 million tons of fly ash and an additional 55 million tons of other CCPs, according to data from the American Coal Ash Association. Nationwide, about 40 percent of CCP production is beneficially used in concrete and cement products, wallboard, highway construction, and other applications, according to the same data.

Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) is a university consortium leveraging the scientific strength of 100 major research institutions to advance science and education by partnering with national laboratories, government agencies, and private industry.

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