Characterization of novel polysulfide polymer coated fly ash and its application in mitigating diffusion of contaminants

L. Zhao, E. Zaborowski, S. Bordoloi, N. Rajagopalan, B. K. Sharma, C. Baroi, W. Xing, L. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fly ash consists of a considerable amount of hazardous elements with high mobility, posing substantial environmental risks during storage in surface impoundments and landfills. This hinders its efficient reuse in construction or material industries. To enhance the versatility of fly ash applications, a novel surface modification technique, termed SuMo, has been developed to create a hydrophobic polysulfide polymer coating on the surface of fly ash particles. The physicochemical properties of SuMo fly ash samples were examined using atomic force microscopy (AFM), environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM), thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and leaching of hazardous elements was tested under practical environmental conditions (pH 4–12) based on the EPA's leaching environmental assessment framework (LEAF). The successful coating of polysulfide polymer on fly ash surface was verified through an increased percentage of C, S, and O in elemental mapping, coupled with the identification of S–O, C[dbnd]O, and C–H functional groups consistent with the chemical structure of polysulfide polymer. While the SuMo fly ash particles maintained their spherical shape, they exhibited increased surface roughness, robust hydrophobicity, and thermal stability up to 250 °C. Notably, owing to the coating's resilience against water leaching, the SuMo fly ash demonstrated a substantial reduction (up to 60-fold) in leachate concentrations of multiple concerning elements, including B, Be, Ba, Mn, Zn, As, Cr, Hg, etc., under various pH conditions compared to the uncoated fly ash. Furthermore, the polysulphide polymer coating effectively prevented Hg volatilization from fly ash below 163 °C. This study highlights the efficacy of the developed polysulfide polymer coating in mitigating the diffusion of hazardous elements from fly ash, thereby enhancing its potential reutilization in material, construction, and agriculture industries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number123706
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Apr 15 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Coal combustion residue
  • Eco-friendly filler
  • Leaching
  • Polymer


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