New Use for Coal Ash

What can we do with mountains of coal ash? Materials science engineers are working on an idea. By combining the fly ash component with a polymer and heat-treating it, the toxic soot becomes a fireproof, lightweight, structural building material.

NGSS Performance Expectation: Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.*

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is coal ash?
  2. Why is it considered an environmental problem?
  3. What is the difference between fly ash and bottom ash?
  4. What percentage of coal ash is fly ash?
  5. What problem are the engineers in the video trying to solve?



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