Ash disposal and ash use are critical to FBC technology and in turn the reactions of FBC ash with water are key to both of these two issues. An effective ash reactivation technology would improve the economics for FBC firing of high-sulphur fuels. Similarly, controlled ash hydration before disposal is the standard method for conditioning FBC ashes when firing high-sulphur fuels with limestone addition. Ashes can be hydrated with liquid water or by steam under pressure and our earlier work suggested that when FBC ashes were hydrated by either method, the components derived from the coal and those from the sorbent can interact chemically. As a result, the amount of “free CaO” (defined as the proportion of CaO and Ca(OH)2, expressed as CaO) may change. Usually, “free CaO” increases after hydration, particularly under pressure. However, there is also evidence that some of the CaO, derived from excess limestone sorbent, enters into reaction with the ash components, possibly silica or silicates. Such processes must modify the exothermicity of the ashes with water and affect their subsequent behaviour. This implies that it is incorrect to assume, as has often been done, that the heat of the hydration process is directly proportional to the CaO content of the ash. Furthermore, the results presented here also strongly support the view that one must include these interactions when looking at FBC hydration.

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