Plant Fund: C4Ward@Scale: Scaled-Up Coal Conversion for Carbon Fibers and Graphite

Grants and Contracts Details

Description

Summary for Public Release C4Ward@Scale: Scaled-Up Coal Conversion for Carbon Fibers and Graphite Background In 2019, U.S. coal production, consumption, and employment reached their lowest levels in 40 years. These trends are likely to persist as coal continues to lose market share to natural gas and renewable generation in the electric power sector. Recent analyses suggest that U.S. coal utilization for coal-to-products applications has the potential to reach utilization levels on the same order of magnitude as that of coal power generation1. Here, carbon fibers deserve special attention, as the market for carbon fibers is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12% through 20242. This growth is driven by increased use in aerospace and defense applications and in lightweighting of vehicular structures. Additional market growth could be possible in other high-volume applications, such as thermal insulation for buildings and materials for construction and infrastructure. Similarly, a massive increase in the demand for graphite for lithium-ion batteries is expected. The growth in anode grade graphite demand is expected to rapidly increase in the next decade rocketing to over 8 MMt/yr by 20313. The value of anode grade graphite is estimated at approximately $10,000/Mt ($10/kg) with a CAGR at 21 %4. At this price and volume, a market size of up to $80B/yr in graphite is anticipated, largely fueled by large-scale adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Incumbent technology for the precursors to both carbon fiber and synthetic graphite largely stem from heavy fractions of petroleum refining by-products including FCC decant oil, and vacuum tar residuals. However, there is far from an excess supply of this material. New precursors will be needed to fill the demand for graphite for BEVs and for carbon fiber from lightweight structures. The program will focus on developing high quality precursors and high value products from domestic coal resources. Project Objectives The purpose of this work is to develop the scientific understanding and processing technologies to enable safe, efficient conversion of domestic carbon ores and waste coals to high value products including graphitic carbon fibers for composites, and anode grade graphite powders for energy storage. Building on prior work in collaboration with ORNL, this project will scale-up processing to the semi-production scale, which will allow for production of sufficient quantities of materials to investigate relevant industrial processing including multifilament melt spinning of fibers and anode powder classification for batteries. 1 Coal in a New Carbon Age, National Coal Council. May (2019) 2 https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/carbon-fiber-market-2019-global-industry-share-demand-top-players- industry-size-future-growth-by-2024-market-reports-world-2019-05-15 3 Nouveau Monde Graphite (NMG) – September 2022: https://nmg.com/wp- content/uploads/2021/02/NMG_Corporate_Presentation.pdf 4 Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, September 2022, and https://nmg.com/wp- content/uploads/2021/02/NMG_Corporate_Presentation.pdf
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/2/241/1/27

Funding

  • Department of Energy

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