Fly Ash Storage: Obstacles and Solutions to Handling Fly Ash

Fly ash is the more common name for the residual waste that results in the burning of natural resources. With the rise of flue gases after burning or combustion ash is released into the air and should be contained and stored for many reasons. In this article, we will review the reasons why fly ash containment is important, the challenges that come with containing fly ash and solutions on how to better contain, store and recycle fly ash. 

First let’s begin with why containing fly ash is vital. The production of airborne residual waste is a natural and unavoidable outcome of providing our society with the resources and power necessary to grow and sustain our lifestyle. Fly ash is produced by many industries, but is mainly related to coal plants. In the United States alone, we produce 100 million tons of this stuff every year which is great, but also brings with it a large responsibility to properly handle fly ash.

Reason #1: Environmental Friendliness

By properly catching fly ash after combustion, we are protecting our planet and our companies from legal consequences. Through proper containment, you are avoiding a PR disaster and earning some brownie points among your investors and consumers. Fly ash is very tiny and can be spread for miles and miles if not properly contained. Let’s just say that inhaling fly ash isn’t the most fun, and it is our responsibility to properly contain it and protect our communities.

Reason #2: Profitability

As we all know, time is money. With poor containment, storage and transportation of fly ash, a company will waste countless hours on paying employees to wait on or fix inefficient fly ash storage units and facilities. Storage silos and other units that are used for fly ash bring with them a lot of problems. Dome fly ash storage units help save time through easy transportation, bulk storage capacity and little maintenance. No more waiting around on the clock! Your workers will be less frustrated and more fulfilled in their work with a smoother fly ash storage system.

Reason #3: Workplace Safety

Many storage units break or cause buildup within them which in turn leads to the uneven and unpredictable flow of fly ash. This is very concerning for workers who rely on a smooth and calculated flow of fly ash. Avoid workplace injuries or the accidental inhalation of fly ash by using a fly ash storage dome.

Challenges of Fly Ash Storage

Now that we have gone over just a few of the reasons why proper storage of fly ash is essential to your coal plant (or any other industry that produces fly ash), let’s jump into some of the challenges that you have probably already seen and battled with in containing your fly ash. These challenges affect the flow, transportation and safety of your operation.

Challenge #1: Flow of Fly Ash

With common and traditional fly ash storage facilities, the flow of the fly ash typically becomes an issue at some point. The two most common flow challenges are arching (also known as bridging) and ratholing. 

Due to fly ash being so small and cohesive, the fly ash can become sticky and form an arch over the outlet of a fly ash storage unit. This makes distribution difficult and unsafe for employees trying to free the outlet.

Ratholing is also caused by the cohesive characteristics of fly ash. Recycled fly ash is mainly used for cement and cohesive materials, so it isn’t surprising that it can cause a problem with the flow while in storage. Ratholing is when the fly ash begins to form as residue along the walls of the storage unit and restricts the flow of fly ash through the outlet. This reduces space, ruins the stored fly ash and decreases the rate at which it can be transported.

fly ash storage

Arching and ratholing obstruct flow, reduce the rate at which it can be transported and make the flow of fly ash uneven, unpredictable and ultimately unsafe. The inefficiency of poor fly ash storage can really cause a headache for companies looking to save time and money. 

On top of affecting the efficiency of your fly ash storage system and the safety of your workers, structural damage can be caused by mediocre fly ash storage. Arching and ratholing can completely destroy a common storage unit by a brisk and dynamic fall. It can almost be compared to an avalanche on a mountain. If the arch or rathole isn’t fixed, monitored or avoided altogether by using a better storage unit like a dome, then the rapid force of the falling residue can leave a fly ash storage unit unusable.

Challenge #2: Dust from Fly Ash

Dust is a real pain. It gets your facility dirty and your equipment nasty, but most importantly, it puts the health of your workers at risk. OSHA is very concerned about dust, which is why it is important to have a storage and distribution system that keeps dust to a minimum.

The storage system needs to resolve situations where the fly ash comes into contact with moving air. This typically is a problem when transporting fly ash as it has to leave one area and move to another. We have flown over piles of fly ash in a small aircraft and it can be a complete mess. We could see from miles away the ash clouds that would form when the bulldozers would move and dump the fly ash leaving all the vehicles and workers covered in nasty dust. The fly ash was open to the elements and simply being irresponsibly wasted.

Even if you aren’t storing fly ash out in the open like the example from the previous paragraph, traditional storage units and open fly ash piles will definitely cause more pain than what they’re worth. Speak with an expert, to learn how dusting can be reduced at your facility through innovative dome technology.

Challenge #3: Avoiding a Fire Hazard

With fly ash, it’s common for pieces of unburned carbon to make it through the process and mix with the fly ash waste. With broken or inefficient storage units, there is a real possibility that the carbon build up from fly ash can get stuck or trapped in between rivets, conveyor belts and other machinery and turn your storage facility into a bonfire.

Fly ash storage can be easy and profitable by using storage domes.

To avoid this issue, it is vital to have a storage facility that makes it easy to store and transport fly ash in a clean and efficient manner. Cutting corners can lead to build-up that can really put a halt to your business. All of this can be easily fixed with the installation of a fly ash storage dome by South Industries.

Solution: Designing and Installing the Right Storage Unit

The key to avoiding all of these challenges is to design the right fly ash storage unit for your facility. A proper understanding of the flow and chemical compound of the resource or waste that you’re trying to store is essential when picking the right unit to house and distribute fly ash in a profitable and professional way.

A dome fly ash storage structure can help increase the flow efficiency along with an adaptable design that will make the storage dome fit perfectly into your facility and work flow. The ideas behind a successful fly ash storage system is a clean and safe way to recycle waste while building profit margins. 

A dome provides steep and smooth surfaces to help with the flow of fly ash. The ability to customize your dome allows for you to build a storage facility around your current facility, staff and equipment. This in turn increases safety and efficiency of your company family.

Our air-tight domes protect fly ash from the elements which can in turn cause stickiness, build-up and internal damage. Our domes will keep your fly ash protected from rain, snow, fire, wind and even earthquakes.

With dome storage for fly ash, you can control the temperature and airflow within the storage unit. This is key for maintaining fly ash in a state that makes it easy to transport and recycle.

Conveyor systems can be a great way to automate the process. Our portfolio is full of domes that incorporate conveyor systems that increase efficiency. With fly ash, a solid conveyor belt can keep your facility clean and your workers focused on more important tasks than running laps between fly ash piles in a dirty dump truck.


With the many struggles that come from fly ash storage and recycling, innovative dome fly ash storage systems offer a way for companies to stay focused on their main objective while responsibly handling their fly ash waste. Feel free to reach out to our staff for more information on our work with fly ash storage and how we could be a good fit for your company.

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