Clean Energy From Coal Waste

Ohio University awarded US$2 million from the Department of Energy to develop clean energy products from coal waste.

Ohio University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (ISEE) was awarded US Department of Energy (DOE) funding for two research and development projects that will repurpose domestic coal resources for high-value graphitic products and carbon-metal composites that can be employed in clean energy technologies. One of the projects explores how coal waste can be reimagined as energy storage and the second aims to develop ultra-conductive carbon-metal composite wire for electric motors.

Energy Storage

The DOE awarded US$999,976 to support the first project, which will focus on developing electrochemical processes to convert coal-based materials to 2D carbon materials for supercapacitor applications. Supercapacitors are typically used for energy storage. The project aims to develop advanced processes, called the electrochemical coal to 2D materials (e-Coal2D) process, to transform coal-based materials into new materials that enhance the capacity of electrochemical supercapacitors.

Coal’s unique structure and composition make it well-suited for use as a raw material for producing various high-value carbon products. The ultimate goal of this project is to continue to find ways to reimagine coal waste to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and create jobs.

Carbon-Metal Composite Wire For Electric Motors

A second project aims to develop cost-effective carbon-metal composites with enhanced bulk electrical properties for use in electric motors. This project was developed from a broader mission to increase American energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions globally.

Using materials derived from coal waste, specifically nano-graphite and graphene, carbon-metal composites will be created using novel metal forming processes. The performance of the finished material, which will take the form of an ultra-conductive wire, will then be tested and quantified to ensure readiness for real-world applications. The wire is intended for use in electric motor applications, which further supports technology to ultimately reduce GHG emissions.

The award from the DOE totals US$1 million with a US$250,000 cost share. According to the ISEE, development of the carbon-metal composite wire will not only reimagine use for coal waste, but its application will offer key environmental and economic advantages. This technology will reduce carbon dioxide emissions, improve electric vehicle efficiency, and create new manufacturing jobs for coal communities.