Rocktron Launches Fly Ash Technology in Asia

(European Plastics 12-9-2010) UK-based RockTron has signed a deal with Malaysian energy provider Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) to transform fly ash into materials such as fillers and extenders in polymers, as well as cementitous substances. RockTron launched its recycled fly ash technology last year. The company extracts high performance fillers from the waste ash produced at coal-fired power stations, using the recovered products in bulk applications and some high performance fillers.
 
Dato’ Yazid Baba, Chairman of RockTron Asia, said: “We estimate there is over six billion tonnes of stockpiled fly ash in the world – half of this in Asia. This waste is made up of valuable minerals we have been literally throwing away for decades. Now, thanks to this agreement with TNB, we can start to reclaim, recycle and reuse these minerals.” RockTron launched RockTron Asia in October. The company says that Malaysia alone produces two million tonnes of fly ash each year, and the country has 2.5 million tonnes stored in ash ponds.
 
The company also has a commercial scale reprocessing unit alongside the Fiddler's Ferry power station at Widnes in the north-west of England. This first installation has the capacity to handle 200 tonnes an hour of pulverised fuel ash (PFA) from the power station, extracting from it a range of products including cenospheres (alumino-silicate hollow glass spheres), solid alumino-silicate microspheres, carbon and magnetite.
 
Last year, the company told European Plastics News that it has patented and exclusive licensed processes that take waste and separate it into useful minerals
 
Godfrey Short, director of business development at RockTron Ad-vanced Products, which aims to develop these high added value applications, said RockTron's "PFA Beneficiation" process is highly efficient and produces no waste. And there is no shortage of raw material; there is an estimated 15m tonnes of PFA stockpiled on the Fiddler's Ferry site alone and this is being topped up at the rate of 500,000 tonnes a year.
 
RockTron expects to be able to supply microspheres - which make up around 80 wt% of PFA - at a substantial cost saving over traditional alternatives. In part, this is because the raw material is a waste product that would otherwise incur a landfill tax.
 
Tests carried out at the Polymer Processing Centre at Queens University in Belfast on PA6,6 and PBT compounds have shown that the RockTron MinTron microspheres compare well with commercial alternatives in terms of their effect on rheology, tensile and flexural modulus, elongation at break and impact performance, according to Short.
 
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