STAR® Technology FAQ

1. What is “STAR® Technology”?

STAR Technology is a self-sustaining, high-temperature process that removes impurities from coal ash. Inside the unit, the ash is swirling into a fine powder of uniform-size particles. The transformed product is STAR ash, a light beige, consistent fly ash suitable for recycling into a wide variety of concrete construction projects.

2. What does it mean when STAR Technology is described as a “beneficiation” process?

The term “beneficiation” describes improved physical or chemical properties in preparation for a second, beneficial use. In the STAR Process, impurities are removed and the ash is refined into fine mineral particles, for use as a sustainable material improving the performance characteristics of concrete.

3. What are the environmental benefits of removing coal ash from ponds and converting the material with STAR Technology?

Permanent removal of coal ash from the environment as it is excavated, processed, recycled, and encapsulated in concrete. Conversion of coal ash previously-stored in ponds or landfills into a sustainable material which improves concrete performance in infrastructure projects. Lower greenhouse gas emissions from the production of concrete by using STAR ash, which reduces the need for carbon-intensive Portland cement. Every ton of STAR ash used in concrete in place of Portland cement reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by roughly one ton. Reduced impact on natural resources for mined materials, such as limestone and shale, which are used in the production of cement.

4. Is this a safe and proven technology?

STAR Technology has been safely used for nine years. The SEFA Group began operating the prototype STAR plant in 2008, as the company recognized the need for additional innovation to meet market needs for quality fly ash for concrete production. The next generation STAR processing facility opened in 2012. In 2015, The SEFA Group began commercial operations at the latest generation STAR plant designed to reclaim and recycle coal ash from surface impoundments, or ponds. STAR units are designed with the latest control technologies to ensure environmental, worker, and public safety.

5. What is the size of a STAR Plant?

A STAR Plant will occupy a few acres of land, with the tallest structures approaching 120 feet. The tallest structures will be concrete storage dome and steel load-out silo structures for storage of ash.

6. What is the noise level to be expected from a STAR Plant?

STAR facilities are designed to be at or below 85 decibels at a distance of three (3) feet from the equipment. The anticipated noise at the property boundary is estimated to be less than 70 decibels, which is equivalent to normal speech at three feet. STAR facilities will comply with the county industrial noise ordinance at the property line.

7. Are there emissions from a STAR Plant?

STAR facilities are equipped with modern emissions monitoring and control equipment that meet stringent state and federal environmental regulations to protect air quality.

8. Is there any odor associated with a STAR Plant?

There is no odor associated with the plant.

9. What happens to any trace heavy metals that normally occur in excavated coal ash?

Trace elements are immobilized within the concrete structure. For years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has endorsed the beneficial use of fly ash as a supplemental additive in concrete. The EPA has performed thorough studies and risk assessment of fly ash in concrete and determined that it is safe. (https://www.epa.gov/coalash/coal-ash-reuse)

10. How is STAR Ash delivered to concrete companies?

STAR Ash is loaded directly from storage units into pneumatic trucks. Pneumatic tank trailers are vacuum-sealed, enclosed tanks that prevent outside air and moisture from entering the tank. Because STAR Ash is delivered in these tank trailers, no dust is released into the atmosphere. Approximately 25 trucks will typically make two trips per day to load material at a STAR plant, starting very early in the morning until around 3:00 pm.

11. How many jobs will be created with a new STAR Plant?

Each STAR Plant requires 14 full-time employees to operate and maintain the facility 24/7. Some locations may also require part-time help for product load-out operators. The transportation of fly ash creates jobs for local drivers and mechanics. Approximately 20 professional CDL drivers are hired per plant.

12. How does this new plant help our local area?

Short-term and long-term economic benefits result from a combination of sustainable, quality material for new construction, job creation, and improving environmental quality.

13. Who is The SEFA Group?

The SEFA Group is a technical service company with an exceptional service record in processing and marketing environmentally-responsible products derived from fly ash for the concrete industry. For 40 years, SEFA has worked with utility companies to market fly ash, a byproduct of coal combustion power plants, which otherwise would have been disposed of in landfills or ponds. A significant part of SEFA’s business involves the development of its proprietary STAR Process and operations and maintenance of STAR facilities. The company also provides services and products to customers through SEFA Transportation, and SEFA Industrial Solutions.