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Reclaiming Ohio Coal Mine Sites

Professor Tarunjit Butalia is exploring ways to reclaim thousands of acres of mine land, while at the same time beneficially using a material typically destined for disposal in landfills.

Butalia is studying the high-volume beneficial use of flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum products in the reclamation of abandoned and active Ohio coal mine sites. FGD material from Ohio coal-fired power plants will increase in the next few years from six million tons to about ten million tons per year, with the majority of this material headed for landfills. Ohio has over 200,000 acres of un-reclaimed strip mined lands. From these mines, the current deposit is as much as 250/acre per year of sediment into streams and lakes.

Along with a team of students, researchers expect to demonstrate that FGD materials can be used in high volumes to reclaim active and abandoned Ohio coal mines in a manner that is economically viable and beneficial to the environment, the public, and the generating companies. The reclamation of these large tracts of land reduces dangerous highwalls and environmental impacts, benefitting local communities, hikers, ATV enthusiasts alike. It will also dramatically reduce the need for new landfills for FGD material. 

Sponsors for the project include the Ohio Coal Development Office, OSU, AEP, Ohio American Energy, along with other public and industry sponsors.

Dr. Butalia is director of the Coal Combustion Products Program.  The primary objective of the CCP Extension Program is the development, assessment, and technology transfer of promising CCP use technologies (especially for FGD materials) for commercial and end-use sectors so as to increase the utilization rate of Coal Combustion Products in Ohio to 35% or more by 2012.