Reduction of metal leaching in brown coal fly ash using geopolymers

P. Bankowski, L. Zou, R. Hodges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Current regulations classify fly ash as a prescribed waste and prohibit its disposal in regular landfill. Treatment of the fly ash can reduce the leach rate of metals, and allow it to be disposed in less prescribed landfill. A geopolymer matrix was investigated as a potential stabilisation method for brown coal fly ash. Precipitator fly ash was obtained from electrostatic precipitators and leached fly ash was collected from ash disposal ponds, and leaching tests were conducted on both types of geopolymer stabilised fly ashes. The ratio of fly ash to geopolymer was varied to determine the effects of different compositions on leaching rates. Fourteen metals and heavy metals were targeted during the leaching tests and the results indicate that a geopolymer is effective at reducing the leach rates of many metals from the fly ash, such as calcium, arsenic, selenium, strontium and barium. The major element leachate concentrations obtained from leached fly ash were in general lower than that of precipitator fly ash. Conversely, heavy metal leachate concentrations were lower in precipitator fly ash than leached pond fly ash. The maximum addition of fly ash to this geopolymer was found to be 60 wt% for fly ash obtained from the electrostatic precipitators and 70 wt% for fly ash obtained from ash disposal ponds. The formation of geopolymer in the presence of fly ash was studied using 29Si MAS-NMR and showed that a geopolymer matrix was formed. X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging showed the interaction of the fly ash with the geopolymer, which was related to the leachate data and also the maximum percentage fly ash addition.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 18 Oct 2004


  • Fly ash
  • Geopolymer
  • Metal leaching
  • Stabilisation
  • Waste management


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