Project Title:Reusing sulfidic coal waste: early stage development and early consideration of technology transfer
Research Theme: Value from Waste
Supervisors: Prof Sue Harrison; Assoc Prof Jennifer Broadhurst
Coal is imperative for South African economic activity in the medium term. Coal mining, however, generates large volumes of waste, which is problematic due to generation of acid rock drainage (ARD). ARD is generated when sulfidic minerals inherent in coal waste oxidise and has serious environmental and human health consequences. Researchers at the University of Cape Town have developed a process for separating fine coal waste into coal, benign waste that can be re-used, and a sulfide-enriched waste that needs special attention. This work focused on early-stage development of options for application of sulfide-enriched material. This was done using an adapted version of the innovation value chain.
Alternatives for application of sulfide-enriched coal waste were first identified using a literature review and then the alternatives most likely to be effective and successfully implemented were selected with the help of experts using multiple criteria decision analysis. The top performers, soil amelioration and cemented paste backfill, were further developed using scenario studies, showing that soil amelioration was the most appropriate application for the material. Concurrently, technology transfer was considered by interviewing stakeholders of the coal industry about the context of technology implementation. Context-specific barriers and enablers to transfer as well as implementation partners were identified.