Fly ash firm is working with large South Carolina power company to take in fly ash from ponds.
The SEFA Group, headquartered in Lexington, S.C., has announced plans to build a $40 million facility to recycle high carbon fly ash produced by the power company Santee Cooper at its Winyah generating station in Georgetown, S.C. SEFA also will take in coal fly ash from other Santee Cooper electric generating stations, where the material will be processed into a marketable product.
Santee Copper is South Carolina's state-owned electric and water utility that came into being during the New Deal.
The new facility is expected to recycle up to 400,000 tons of fly ash per year. SEFA will use the material as a primary ingredient for its STAR (staged turbulent air reactor) process to produce a pure mineral product, free of organic contaminants.
SEFA presently has two other STAR plants, one in Columbia, S.C., the other in Newburg, Md. The new facility will be the first to recycle fly ash from settling basins.
Tom Hendrix, CEO of the SEFA Group, says,"We introduced STAR RP to the concrete industry in 2011 when we began operating our Maryland plant. The pure mineral matter produced by our STAR plants provides greater strength and durability in concrete than the fly ashes that were typically used to make concrete over the last several decades.”
Santee Cooper says it has recycled fly ash, bottom ash and gypsum since the 1970s. Prior to the recent recession, Santee Cooper was using about 90 percent of the material for beneficial purposes. The utility's ash is used by the cement and concrete block industries.
Santee Cooper notes that it has worked to recycle as much of its ash as possible through the decades. The challenges now are that with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations spurring the closure of coal-fired generating stations around the country, there has become greater demand for ash and the development of new technology that increases the viability of pond ash.
"As we continue working to close units at Jefferies and Grainger and consider long-term needs for Winyah, Santee Cooper is focused on solutions that are cost-effective and beneficial to the environment and the economy," says R.M. Singletary, executive vice president of corporate services. "This is a triple win. It is cost effective, which means it is responsive to our customers' best interests. It utilizes innovative technology to help an important South Carolina industry be sustainable. And it is an EPA-approved use of ash."
"This plan also addresses comments by our neighbors, the city of Conway and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Controls about long-term placement of the ash, and it does so in a manner that is responsible to customers," Singletary adds. "It's a solution that really does have something favorable for all involved."
The plans will empty Santee Cooper’s ash ponds at the three stations over the next 10 to 15 years. The power company will provide excavation, loading and transportation of the ash to the plants where it will be used
The SEFA Group is diversified throughout many areas of fly ash use for the construction industry.