Efficient Process for the Production of High Conductivity, Carbon-rich Materials from Coal

Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) has been awarded a research program from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a process that will utilize American domestic coal as a feedstock to produce high value carbon-based materials for batteries and other electrochemical applications.

Domestic coal can be used to manufacture high value carbon products for multiple applications. The market value of these high performance materials often exceeds the fuel and heat value of coal, which illustrates there are sustainable market forces for manufacturing carbon materials from coal. Current processes to produce high performance carbon materials from coal pose significant challenges associated with the substantial chemical modifications of the native coal structures that require high temperatures and/or strongly oxidative, highly corrosive reagents. PSI’s process requires minimal reagent usage, efficient recycling (>90%) and produces a carbon product for electrochemical applications with 20-30X higher value than the coal price. In addition, the process generates valuable byproducts such as minerals and low emission gaseous fuels.

During the previous phase, domestic coal feedstocks were screened and selected, scalable processes were demonstrated to produce the high conductivity material, and high performance battery electrodes suitable for use in next generation lithium ion batteries were produced with the material. During this phase, PSI will demonstrate the scale-up of the process to enable the technology transition into pilot and commercial production. PSI’s approach will demonstrate an economically viable process to produce high value, conductive carbon-rich materials from coal feedstocks. These materials will have a much higher market value than the fuel value of coal, and thus will provide a sustainable market for their manufacturing. In addition, the this process will generate valuable co-products that can be integrated with other commercial operations such as the recovery of trace elements and low-emission energy production.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Christopher Lang
Area Manager, Material and Energy Technologies
Physical Sciences Inc.
Telephone: (978) 689-0003

This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, under Award Number DE-SC0018837