The environmental and economic benefits of using fly ash aggregates in concrete admixtures are well documented with adoption continually growing across industry[1].   The critical factor in managing this abundantly available waste from coal fired power plants is in converting it on-site at the lowest cost to both the materials processors and for sale to end users.  The best way to cut processing costs is to lower capital equipment costs and increase efficiencies in production.  Lancaster Products has successfully worked  with Nometrain Pty. Ltd. from Queensland, Australia, to develop processes with a Lancaster High Shear Counter-Current Mixer to produce granulated Cold Set Ceramic products.  This Cold Set Ceramic process uses a chemical reaction to cure the fly ash into a ceramic product  which eliminates the need for kilns commonly used to fire fly ash agglomerates after they are pelletized in our high shear mixers.  Nometrain has developed an environmentally safe, proprietary process that utilizes chemicals instead of water with the fly ash mix which “cures at ambient temperatures to produce a matrix with exceptional early green strength, and which cures over time[2].”  This revolutionary process does away with the need  for kiln firing eliminating an additional piece of expensive equipment and greatly reduces the energy costs typically associated with the firing of fly ash agglomerates.  The partnership with Lancaster Products has allowed Nometrain the ability to utilize the Lancaster Mixer to create  agglomerates of varying sizes at 90+% yields in an extremely short mix cycle.

The ability for materials processors to control the size of pelletized fly ash directly in the mixing process opens the door to a host of diversified markets such as lightweight, specialty concrete used in flowable fill.  “Concrete using Nometrain Aggregates is less costly to manufacture, lighter weight, is a more effective use of cement, and concrete made with the Nometrain process is lighter in weight than concrete made using expanded shale aggregates.[3]”  But this is only possible if the machinery that processes the mix can consistently produce the specified roundness and small size required for specialty concrete at high yields.  The collaboration with the engineering staff at Lancaster Products has proven that running the materials in our high shear counter-current mixers meets their requirements while reducing typical mix cycle times.

This is yet another example of the many ways in which Lancaster Products’ high shear mixers are being utilized to blur the lines between industry and a more sustainable environment.  The Cold Set Ceramic Process allows an efficient and cost effective way to turn environmentally harmful waste into a usable product revenue stream.  Recycling fly ash through this cold set process contains contaminants on-site and allows power plants to potentially eliminate the need and risks associated with storing and transporting residual fly ash.  The lower cost aggregates produced not only decrease operating costs of coal fired power plants, but also drive down the cost of specialty lightweight concrete and ultimately contributes to environmental sustainability.


Do you have an idea for a specialty application for material processing but can’t seem to find the right process to make it work?  Contact our engineers today to discuss how high shear mixers from Lancaster Products can solve your problem.


[1] U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pavement/recycling/fach02.cfm

[2] Nometrain.net: http://nometrain.net/nometrain-process

[3] Nometrain.net: http://nometrain.net/nometrain-lightweight-aggregates