Element speciation in UK biomass power plant residues based on composition, mineralogy, microstructure and leaching

Anna A. Bogush, Julia A. Stegemann, Richard Williams, Ian G. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Biomass ash management is an escalating issue in many countries because of increasing numbers of biomass power plants. Comprehensive characterization of biomass ashes with emphasis on element speciation, and solubility of nutrients (e.g., K and P) and pollutants is essential for potential utilization of these residues for soil nutrition. All the UK biomass ashes investigated, whether from combustion of poultry litter, meat and bone meal, and straw, were alkaline and contained high concentrations of P, K, and Ca. The biomass air pollution control (APC) residues were enriched in K, Cl, S and Zn, and contained less lithophile elements, such as Al, Ca, P, Mg, Si, Ti, and Ba, compared to the bottom ashes. P appeared in: 1) bottom ashes as apatite and other phosphates (potassium hydrogen phosphate and potassium iron phosphate in the bottom ashes from combustion of poultry litter); 2) APC residues from combustion of poultry litter as potassium sodium calcium phosphate. K is present mainly in sylvite, arcanite, and some phosphates. Na, K, Cl, and S were easily leached by water from the biomass APC residues. However, water leaching of P, Ca, and Mg was very low, with leaching of P possibly controlled by hydroxyapatite. Aqueous Zn, Cu and Pb appear to prevail in the form of neutral and anionic hydroxide complexes, which are toxic and easily accessible chemical forms for live organisms. Application of the poultry litter bottom ashes as a PK fertiliser in agriculture is appropriate. However, direct application of APC residues to agricultural fields is not appropriate but recovery of K and P from that material should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)712-725
Number of pages14
Early online date4 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • APC residue
  • Biomass
  • Bottom ash
  • Element speciation
  • Fertiliser
  • Fly ash
  • Leaching
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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