Select Page

The Mountain Xpress, Asheville’s weekly independent newspaper, profiled the Mineral Research Laboratory (MRL) as well as its Director, Dr. Robert Mensah-Biney, in an issue published earlier this year.

In 2008, the MRL began a partnership with nearby UNC- Asheville to offer a mineral processing curriculum, part of which is delivered at the MRL’s unique small-scale processing plant on Coxe Avenue. The laboratory also offers free educational materials, such as rock kits and posters, to schools that request them. But it is MRL’s research arm, which develops innovative solutions for both corporate and government clients, that is highlighted in Mountain Xpress by writer Max Hunt:

From 2000-06, Mensah-Biney led a consortium of utility representatives, Land of Sky Regional Council staffers and academics that explored cost-effective ways to reuse coal ash in construction materials.

The researchers extracted carbon from the coal ash for use in steel production; the remaining material would be used to make concrete. “We were proposing a process where you can reduce the carbon and then sell the ash to the concrete people to use right now,” Mensah-Biney recalls. The proposed plant, he notes, would have been able “to treat about 1,000 tons a day, so over 300,000 tons a year.”

Read more about this project, as well as MRL’s history and mission, online at, “Minerals Research Lab cooks up cutting edge solutions.”