Long-term leaching of nutrients and contaminants from wood combustion ashes

Research output: Research - peer-reviewJournal article – Annual report year: 2018

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With increasing amounts of woody biomass being combusted for energy purposes worldwide, more wood ash is being generated and needs management. As an alternative to landfilling, residues may be utilised for liming and fertilising purposes on forest soils. Comprehensive evaluations of long-term leaching from these residues are needed in order to assess potential environmental impacts associated with their utilisation. Two Danish wood ash samples, one fly ash and one mixed ash (a combination of fly ash and bottom ash), were evaluated in long-term percolation column tests (up to L/S ∼2000 L/kg), in order to quantify the release of major, minor and trace metal(loid)s. While columns of three different lengths were used, the leaching of individual elements could be described as a function of the L/S ratio – irrespective of the column length. At L/S 1000 L/kg, the cumulative releases of K, S, Na, Ca and Rb were at 40–100% of their respective solid contents, followed by Ba, Cr, Sb, Sr and V at 15–40% and Al, Mg, Zn, Cd, Co, Fe, Pb, Tl, Mn and P at < 5%. Speciation calculations indicated that (i) the observed concentrations of Ca, Mg, Al, Ba, Si and sulphate from both ash types could be described through the dissolution/precipitation of a limited set of minerals and that (ii) leaching of silicates should be included in long-term assessment of alkalinity release from wood ashes. Non-equilibrium conditions were indicated by flow interruptions. However, the presence of non-equilibrium did not have significant effect on the calculated cumulative releases at high L/S ratios. Based on the assessment of cumulative releases at L/S 10 L/kg and L/S 1000 L/kg it is concluded that low L/S-based data may not provide sufficient background for prediction of long-term release from wood ash, in particular for Ba, Cr, Sb and V, and less critically also for As, Cd, Cu, Mo and Ni.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste Management
Pages (from-to)373-383
StatePublished - 2018
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: 4

    Research areas

  • Biomass ash, Liming, MSWI, Flow interruption, Geochemical modelling, Column
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ID: 140837190