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US energy department funds projects to create new market opportunities for coal

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Coal,

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected three additional projects to receive approximately US$3 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects.

The projects will develop innovative uses of domestic coal for upgraded coal-based feedstocks used to produce power and to make steel and high value products – ultimately creating new market opportunities for coal. These projects will support FE’s Advanced Energy Systems Program.

DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory will manage the projects, which are:

1. Coal as value added for lithium battery anodes – Semplastics EHC, LLC (Seminole, Florida, USA) will complete the development of a novel composite material specifically targeted for use in lithium ion (Li-ion) battery anodes using US coal as the feedstock. A new material based on Semplastics’ X-MAT® polymer-derived ceramic technology shows promise for use in Li-ion battery anodes.

The objective of this work is to find the best formulation for technical performance and economic viability, thereby preparing this material for the marketplace.

DOE Funding: US$749 942.
Non-DOE funding: US$187 500.
Total value: US$937 442.

2. Laboratory-scale coal-derived graphene process – the University of North Dakota will demonstrate a laboratory-scale coal-derived graphene process to produce graphene oxide, reduced graphene oxide, and graphene quantum dots starting from domestic US coal. The steps to meet the proposed objective include:

  1. Coal pre-treatment with methods developed by the University’s Energy & Environment Research Center.
  2. Graphitisation of treated coal products.
  3. Exfoliation of graphite to graphene.
  4. An economic feasibility analysis.
  5. Analysis of product target markets and technology gaps.

These processes will be applied to anthracite, bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite coals to advance the current state of technology, as well as maximise the coal value chain.

DOE Funding: US$744 064.
Non-DOE funding: US$186 016.
Total value: US$930 080.

3. Sub-pilot-scale production of high value products from US coals – The University of Utah, USA will:

  1. Scale up and verify lab-scale developments on the production of isotropic and mesophase coal-tar pitch for carbon fibre production, using coals from five US coal-producing regions located in Utah, Wyoming, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Illinois (all USA).
  2. Investigate the production of a high value silicon carbide by-product using residual coal char from the tar production process.
  3. Develop an extensive database and suite of tools for data analysis and economic modelling to relate process conditions to product quality, and to assess the economic viability of coals from different regions for producing specific high value products.

This effort aims to provide a low cost carbon fibre product from coal for potential use in the automotive industry and other important markets. This project could also lead to new economic development opportunities for communities with coal-based economies.

DOE funding: US$1 499 880.
Non-DOE funding: US$432 615.
Total value: US$1 932 495.

The selected projects will join ten other projects chosen under this FOA in September of 2019 that received approximately US$10.2 million in federal funding.

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