In a shifting energy generation paradigm, innovation is needed to extract the full economic value from coal waste.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) will invest $6 million in Federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects to further explore the use of coal waste as a 3D printable material.

Yesterday, we mentioned the fact that several developments are currently being discussed across the Energy industry, be it for more sustainable energy sources or for better ways to tap natural resources, hence the need for more insights into the implications for AM for the energy industry.

Applicants who have understood the scope of this shifting energy generation paradigm will be working within the Advanced Coal Processing program at NETL. They will dedicate their work on coal waste and look for ways to extract its full economic value. To do so, they will leverage novel technologies to produce valuable products from coal waste-derived sources through laboratory- and pilot-scale R&D.

The use of coal waste in additive manufacturing and graphite  

While in Europe we have the Green Deal, the US Government also have big ambitions for a climate neutral and circular economy environment.

In this vein, using coal waste in additive manufacturing and graphite production helps to develop existing and new environmentally sound uses for coal waste, and to deploy these technologies in economically distressed power plant and coal communities.

Furthermore, even though both coal from existing mines and coal wastes can be used as feedstocks for this project, experts will first explored natural coal wastes (e.g. tailings, ash, etc.).

Needless to say, the investment will create more jobs as the nation transitions to clean energy. It will also help ensure that the cost of the energy transition is not disproportionately borne by these coal communities.

The Advanced Coal Processing value chain. Image via NETL.

About the funding

The funding is made as part of the announcement (FOA) DE-FOA-0002405, Advanced Coal Waste Processing: Production of Coal-Enhanced Filaments or Resins for Advanced Manufacturing and Research and Development of Coal-Derived Graphite.

The objectives of this FOA also are aligned with Executive Order 14008 (dated Jan. 27, 2021), Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which states that “reclaiming abandoned mine land can create well-paying union jobs in coal …” and that “such work should include efforts to turn properties idled in these communities, such as brownfields, into new hubs for the growth of our economy.”

Applicants seeking these FOA funds will be required to submit a preliminary summary of environmental justice considerations regarding their proposed technology, to address how it will remediate the environmental impacts associated with the use of coal.

Applications for two areas of interest (AOI) are being sought at this time:

  • AOI-1: Coal-Enhanced Filaments or Resins for Additive Manufacturing. This AOI focuses on coal-enhanced filaments or resins with superior properties and/or economics designed for additive manufacturing via 3D printing, through either Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Stereolithography (SLA).
  • AOI-2: Developing Pathways to Coal-Derived Graphite. This AOI focuses on developing pathways for the economical production of coal-derived graphite for use in such applications as battery anodes, bipolar plates for proton exchange membrane fuel cells, supercapacitor electrodes, substrates for carbon-carbon composites and lubricants.

A maximum of six awards is anticipated. Applications must be submitted by May 31, 2021. For more information, visit FedConnect.

Together with Siemens Energy, ETN Global and Engie, 3D ADEPT Media will dive into the implications of AM for the energy industry. If you want to know more, make sure you save your spot here.

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