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University of Kentucky CAER Researchers Produce Carbon Fibers From Waste Coal

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American Carbon Society Members At UK CAER Produce Carbon Fibers From Waste Coal
University of Kentucky CAER Researchers Produce Carbon Fibers From Waste Coal

More than 4,000,000,000 tons of impounded waste coal are estimated to exist across coalfields in the state of Kentucky, and Researchers at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) have developed a method to turn that waste coal into valuable carbon fibers.

The technology employed at CAER was supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Fossil Energy and Carbon Management Office in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and shows great promise for building a cost-competitive, domestic supply chain for carbon fiber and graphite – strategic materials that are increasingly important to our global economy.

The project “C4WARD: Coal Conversion for Carbon Fibers and Composites” focuses on developing energy-efficient and cost-effective processes for manufacturing carbon fibers and graphite from coal. This project at CAER’s Carbon Materials Group was guided by Rodney Andrews (CAER Director and Principal Investigator for C4WARD) and Matthew Weisenberger (CAER Associate Director).

A key technical advancement was the development of a viable process to convert coal to a filtered liquid, and then convert that liquid into mesophase pitch — a liquid crystal material that can be used to produce graphite powders or be converted to highly ordered carbon fiber with very high stiffness.

In this breakthrough, high modulus (high stiffness-to-weight ratio) carbon fibers were produced from the waste coal and nearly half of the carbon comprising the fibers stemmed from the waste coal.

More details about the project are available at the University of Kentucky website.

Blog Article contributed by Dr Matthew Weisenberger (UK CAER) and edited by Dr Julian Norley of Norley Carbon & Graphite Consultants, LLC.

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