Utilisation Trends: Coal Ash in Vi?t Nam

- Vi?t Nam

The Department of Industrial Safety and Environment at the Ministry of Industry and Trade is currently addressing the country’s need to maximize the use of coal fly ash from local coal fired power stations. Deputy Director, Ph?m Tr?ng Th?c confirms that the two main issues of last year were the production of fly ash from thermal power plants and chemical fertilizer plants. 

Vietnamese power stations produce about thirteen million tonnes of fly ash and plaster per year, 65% of which comes from power generators in the north.  At the moment, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), only 38.9% is being used as a raw material. The primary product utilizing coal fly ash in Viet Nam is gypsum boarding, used in civil construction.

The progressive policies for using coal ash from power plants and fertilizer plants to manufacture building material products have been enacted since 2014 nation wide. The goal of these initiatives was to help solve the big issue of disposal, and aid construction costs by offering a cheap alternative to sand and other filler aggregates.

VINACHEM (Vi?t Nam Chemical Group) is a good example of a company taking full advantage of these environmental regulations aimed at reducing landfilling of coal fly ash.  Cooperating with a local gypsum company, the group is able to produce 750,000 tonnes of cement per year, using coal ash as its base additive. The group has also recently expanded, building another cement plant that aims to produce 600,000 tonnes per year, with the same coal ash additive.

However, delay in industry adaptation has been linked to concerns with the problems associated with the use coal fly ash in construction materials. Taxing, as well as proper handling and utilization practices are among top concerns of manufacturers and legislators. MOIT has executed their newest initiative for safe handling and sourcing by reducing the importation of gypsum, as well as monitoring the exploitation of natural gypsum in the country. The MOIT will continue to work with the Vi?t Nam Chemical Group and other organizations like it to develop quality assurance criteria for construction projects and production of materials used in construction.

Global Gypsum Market to Grow 10% in the Next Decade

Resource: The Future of Gypsum: Market Forecasts to 2016, Smithers Apex

Currently, the global gypsum market is valued at approximately $1.5 billion USD. 60% of this contributed to by the cement industry, while 33% is taken up by plasterboarding. Gypsum’s primary uses are in the settling of retarders (cement), building construction and for conditioning soil and fertilizer in agricultural applications. The 252 million ton per year industry is expecting to grow another $1 billion USD in the next two years and another 1.5billion in the 8 years following, as expressed by Ken Soezen, author of this report.

The pattern of consumption fluctuates geographically. The western world, including the US and large parts of Western Europe, use the product for wallboarding. This is not true for the rest of the world and especially in developing countries such as India and China where drier applications in instruction are not the industry standard yet.

Population growth particularly contributes to the need for gypsum in developing worlds, as the market fluctuates between the need for housing, and therefore cement becomes in higher demand. China and India, where construction and infrastructure work has exploded in recent years, became catalysts for growth in cement production in Asia. In 2012, China alone accounted for 58% of worldwide cement production, with India also making the top of the list at 10%, behind the USA.

The construction industry tends to be very cost conscious as seen in recent shifts towards eco-friendly and cost effective utilization of waste bi-products in the building materials sector.  Gypsum has become an industry favorite due to its recyclability and durability during repeated applications. Gypsum is one of the cheapest alternatives to widely used portland and sand based aggregate cements that have been the industry norm.