According to a study, power plants in India generate up to 280 million tonnes of fly ash every year. Long inhalation of fly-ash causes various serious diseases like silicosis, fibrosis of lungs and cancer.
Betting big on waste treatment business, Thermax has forayed into fly ash management under which it will offer power generators and users of captive power like steel and cement companies solutions that will neutralise the waste material arising out of the burning of coal, according to an official familiar with the development.
The solution will also help power generators meet regulatory compliance on environment, the source added.
The company has tied up with two European companies and one Indian company for sourcing the technology behind the solutions.
"The Indian company also has a tie-up with a European company for the solution. It's a new business for Thermax and offers a big opportunity. For power producers, it neutralises their waste and also creates a separate revenue stream for them," the official said.
Fly ash is mostly used to make bricks and cement. But still, most of the fly ash is left unused as only a certain kind of ash can be used to manufacture cement. Thus, the fly ash mountains are posing a big environmental and health hazard.
Management of fly ash is a big challenge for power companies who often struggle to meet environmental norms on their safe disposal, either mostly bypassing the laws or leaving it to the local contractor to manage the hazardous process. PM 2.5 and PM 10 are spewed into the atmosphere every time a strong breeze blows.
According to a study, power plants in India generate up to 280 million tonnes of fly ash every year.
Long inhalation of fly-ash causes various serious diseases like silicosis, fibrosis of lungs and cancer.
Use of fly ash can also prevent soil erosion and cut-down of hills. Fly ash, when used in construction, uses less water. Its use is environmentally friendly in another way, too. It gives a building material that has up to 30 percent lower thermal conductivity, leading to a lower requirement of air conditioning and hence lower power consumption.
"The carbon saving potential is one of the highest if looked at from the holistic perspective. The technologies exist and so does commercial viability," he said.
Fly ash management provides a new revenue source for the family-owned, professionally managed company that has struggled like most other power sector-dependent companies.
Thermax makes power plant equipment and chemicals and solutions for air pollution control, water treatment and waste management.Thermax reported a net profit of Rs 56.66 crore in December quarter, down 16.5 percent from Rs 67.86 crore in the same period a year ago.