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Call for Proposals Announced for New Research Opportunity Involving Coal Ash

July 7, 2009

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—Recent coal ash spills in Tennessee and Pennsylvania have heightened awareness of the need for effective strategies to address the byproducts of coal combustion processes. A new research opportunity funded by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and managed by Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) has been established and a call for proposals is being announced.

This solicitation is intended for basic and applied research on:

  • alternative ways to contain, handle and process coal combustion products (CCPs)
  • characterizing the properties of CCPs to enable more of them to be reused
  • the effects of coal fly ash releases into the environment

ORAU will manage an independent proposal review and the grant process and has established a Research Opportunity Web site through which responses to the call for proposals may be submitted. The site includes descriptions of the focus areas of interest for proposals, as well as information about funding and eligibility requirements, content guidelines and the review process and selection criteria.

Support for CCP proposals on the management of CCPs may be in the form of grants, subsidies or TVA in-kind services. The number of investigations supported and the total amount of support awarded will depend on the nature and quality of proposals submitted, the potential for commercial application and the potential economic or environmental benefit.

ORAU will also solicit commercial proposals for the beneficial reuse of CCPs under a second Request for Proposals (RFP) to be issued at a later date. The intent of the solicitation will be to garner technically sound and market-viable ideas for the use of CCPs in new products and processes as well as in conventional applications—not to support basic research in CCP use. ORAU will provide a schedule for solicitation as soon as it is available. For more information, check the Web site.

Funding levels for proposals on the environmental effects of CCPs are expected to be $1 million per year for three years, with awards potentially ranging from $50,000 to $300,000 or more for one to three years. The number of awards will depend on the nature of proposals received, but is expected to be at least three and as many as 10.

Eligibility for the funding is open to colleges and universities, research institutions, private companies and qualified individual researchers.

“The proposals with the highest technical merit will win the opportunity to explore ways to facilitate the scientifically sound development of new beneficial uses for CCPs and the creation of new environmental information,” said Robb Turner, peer review manager at ORAU. “The knowledge will be useful not only to TVA, but also to the utility industry, regulators and the public.”

In 2007, the coal-fueled electric power industry generated almost 72 million tons of fly ash and an additional 55 million tons of other CCPs, according to data from the American Coal Ash Association. Nationwide, about 40 percent of CCP production is beneficially used in concrete and cement products, wallboard, highway construction and other applications, according to the same data.

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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