Murdoch graduates use flyash waste from burning coals to create new type of concrete

Murdoch graduate Ramon Skane, Concreto employees Margaret Gauntlett and Simon Gauntlett, Dr Martin Anda from Murdoch University and Murdoch graduate Hendrik Gildenhuys. Photo is supplied.
Murdoch graduate Ramon Skane, Concreto employees Margaret Gauntlett and Simon Gauntlett, Dr Martin Anda from Murdoch University and Murdoch graduate Hendrik Gildenhuys. Photo is supplied.

RESEARCHERS from Murdoch university have created a new type of concrete using waste generated from burning coal.

Utilising fly ash from Collie's coal mines, Colliecrete is created through mixing soft fly ash from power stations with construction waste, to create a greener alternative to concrete.

Officially launched on July 21, the intent of the product is to reduce the need for unsustainable and destructive practices.

Centre for Water, Energy and Waste Environmental Engineer and Lead Researcher Doctor Martin Anda said the project began in response to the current transition process Collie is going through with its coal mining.

"I was really interested in this process as coal shuts down and we stop coal mining and of course the potential job losses and potential impact on the community," Dr Anda said.

"As I teach in the area of transition to a post-carbon society, I started taking my students from Murdoch university down to the Collie mine a few years ago, working on different projects that could help create new industries and business. It was an opportunity for the students to see change in action and transition."

Under Dr Anda's instruction, Murdoch university environmental engineering graduates Hendrik Gildenhuys and Ramon Skane hope to use Collie's tailing dams as the basis for a greener manufacturing industry that will create new jobs for the economy.

Dr Anda said Collie had over 80 years worth of fly ash that was currently being utilised in labs to create different types of concrete mixes that were going to be suitable for various business' to grow in Collie.

"The project will definitely create jobs, but it will also have environmental benefits because of turning a waste product into a value-added product."

Shire of Collie President Councilor Sarah Stanley said the Colliecrete project, which is at this stage a research project was so far dealing with the issue of fly ash waste in Collie.

"The main feedstock for the product is fly ash which has had limited uses to date, so the vast majority of fly ash is stockpiled in dams at the power station sites. The project is looking at not only using the fly ash from current coal-fired power generation, but also making use of the stockpiles from decades of production," Cr Stanley said.

In regards to local businesses beginning to use Colliecrete, she said the project would select a small number of demonstration projects based on ideas and engagement with the community.

"The applications for the Colliecrete product once it reaches commercialisation are potentially as varied as traditional concrete," Cr Stanley said.

Shire of Collie President Sarah Stanley spoke at the Colliecrete launch event on July 21. Photo is supplied.

Shire of Collie President Sarah Stanley spoke at the Colliecrete launch event on July 21. Photo is supplied.

"If the project reaches commercialisation, it could generate up to 100 jobs, depending on the scale of the operation and applications of the product," Cr Stanley said.

Colliecrete is a West Australian State Government funded research project financed by Royalties for Regions and Collie Futures Funding.

Residents will be able to view a public demonstration of Colliecrete at the Collie TAFE on August 23.

For more information visit https://www.colliecrete.com.au/.