Impacts of pH and Ammonia on the Leaching of Cu(II) and Cd(II) from Coal Fly Ash


Many coal-fired power plants are implementing ammonia-based technologies to reduce NOx emissions. Excess ammonia in the flue gas often deposits on the coal fly ash. Ammonia can form complexes with many heavy metals and change the leaching characteristics of these metals. This research tends to develop a fundamental understanding of the ammonia impact on the leaching of some heavy metals, exemplified by Cu(II) and Cd(II), under different pH conditions. Batch results indicated that the adsorption is the main mechanism controlling Cu(II) and Cd(II) leaching, and high concentrations of ammonia (>5000 mg/l) can increase the release of Cu(II) and Cd(II) in the alkaline pH range. Based on the chemical reactions among fly ash, ammonia, and heavy metal ion, a mathematical model was developed to quantify effects of pH and ammonia on metal adsorption. the adsorption constants (log K) of Cu²⁺, Cu(OH)⁺, Cu(OH)₂, and Cu(NH₃)²⁺m for the fly ash under investigation were respectively 6.0, 7.7, 9.6, and 2.9. For Cd(II), these constants were respectively 4.3, 6.9, 8.8, and 2.6. Metal speciation calculations indicated that the formation of less adsorbable metal-ammonia complexes decreased metal adsorption, therefore enhanced metal leaching.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


Electric Power Research Institution

Keywords and Phrases

Adsorption; Ammonia; Fly Ash; Heavy Metal; Leaching

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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