STTR Phase I: Making Lightweight Building Products from Fly Ash

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Freight Pipeline Company
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Henry Liu
(573) 442-0080
Business Contact:
Henry Liu
(573) 442-0080
Research Institution:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Christopher M Fender
310 Jesse Hall
Columbia, MO, 65211 9242
(257) 882-7560
Nonprofit college or university
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). This Small Business Technology Transfer Phase I project will test the feasibility of producing lightweight building materials from fly ash, suitable for making roofing tiles, wall boards and insulation materials for buildings. A byproduct of coal-fired power plants, less than 50% of fly ash in the U.S. is currently used. Improper disposal, as in the December 2008 fly ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee, causes serious damage to environment. The best solution is to increase fly ash use -- converting it into quality green building products. This project will test a new method to produce lightweight building materials using water supersaturated with air and carbon dioxide. When such water is mixed with Class C fly ash, the supersaturated gas creates millions of micro-bubbles, producing a lightweight material similar to aerated concrete. This research is designed to prove: (1) lightweight building materials can be made from fly ash containing supersaturated air or CO2, (2) such materials have adequate properties (meeting ASTM standards), and (3) they are cost-effective. The project is highly innovative because: (1) it involves untested novel concepts; (2) the research has both high risk and high potential payoff, and (3) it will generate new knowledge and knowhow. Success in both Phase I and Phase II research will enable development of a new technology that can turn fly ash into useful multifunctional building materials. Commercialization of the materials will not only increase the use of currently unused fly ash and conserve energy in manufacturing, but will also reduce manufacturing costs of building products, benefiting the housing industry. Use of CO2 for producing lightweight fly ash products will also cause carbon sequestration, which helps to reduce global warming. The nation's environment and economy will both benefit from this research. Conducted in collaboration with University of Missouri-Columbia, this project also has educational values. The Phase I project will provide assistantship and research opportunity to a graduate student in civil engineering for fulfilling degree requirements. It will also extend the student advisor's research field and enhance his professional development. The Principal Investigator has a proven record of conducting award-winning research in fly ash bricks, a technology successfully developed under a previous NSF grant, with the technology now licensed to industries in USA and 10 other nations. His expertise in related research, protection of IP rights, and commercialization of new technology makes him uniquely qualified to direct this project.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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