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An Appraisal of Coal Fly Ash Soil Amendment Technology (FASAT) of Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR)

Authors: L.C. Ram, R.E. Masto, Smriti Singh, R.C. Tripathi, S.K. Jha, N.K. Srivastava, A.K. Sinha, V.A. Selvi, A. Sinha


Coal will continue to be the predominant source of global energy for coming several decades. The huge generation of fly ash (FA) from combustion of coal in thermal power plants (TPPs) is apprehended to pose the concerns of its disposal and utilization. FA application based on its typical characteristics as soil ameliorant for agriculture and forestry is the potential area, and hence the global attempt. The inferences drawn suffer from the variations of ash characteristics, soil types, and agro-climatic conditions; thereby correlating the effects of ash between various plant species and soil types is difficult. Indian FAs have low bulk density, high water holding capacity and porosity, rich silt-sized particles, alkaline nature, negligible solubility, and reasonable plant nutrients. Findings of the demonstrations trials for more than two decades from lab/pot to field scale long-term experiments are developed as FA soil amendment technology (FASAT) by Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR), Dhanbad. Performance of different crops and plant species in cultivable and problematic soils, are encouraging, eco-friendly, and being adopted by the farmers. FA application includes ash alone and in combination with inorganic/organic amendments; combination treatments including bio-solids perform better than FA alone. Optimum dose being up to 100 t/ha for cultivable land and up to/ or above 200 t/ha of FA for waste/degraded land/mine refuse, depending on the characteristics of ash and soil. The elemental toxicity in Indian FA is usually not of much concern owing to alkaline ashes, oxide forms of elements, and elemental concentration within the threshold limits for soil application. Combating toxicity, if any, is possible through combination treatments with organic materials and phytoremediation. Government initiatives through extension programme involving farmers and ash generating organizations need to be accelerated

Keywords: Fly ash, soil quality, CIMFR, FASAT, agriculture, forestry, toxicity, remediation

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