US DOE grants $1.5 million to make coal composites
October 07, 2019 - United States Of America
An Ohio University professor has been awarded $1.5 million by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to develop engineered composite decking boards from coal. Industry partners are contributing an additional $500,000 in funding for the project. The scientist aims to use coal to manufacture construction composite building materials in collaboration with partners.
Jason Trembly, Russ Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (ISEE), part of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, aims to utilise coal in the manufacture of construction composite building materials in collaboration with Consol Energy, Engineered Profiles, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Clear Skies Consulting.
“I am very proud of the contributions made by ISEE students and staff in developing the construction composite materials, which made this effort a great success,” said Trembly. “Further, I’m grateful for the support of the DOE and our industry partners and excited to work with them to scale composite manufacturing and assess commercialisation opportunities.”
Manufacturing the coal-based composites requires less energy – and results in lower manufacturing costs and emissions – than manufacturing commercial wood plastic composites. Also, more affordable to consumers, the materials provide a new, sustainable way of using coal while meeting all applicable ASTM and International Building Code specifications.
Consol’s vice president of Business Development and Technology Dan Connell said the initiative has the potential to open up an alternative, sustainable market for US coal.
“In line with our company’s mission, this project is keenly focused on technological innovation to create an entirely new application for coal – namely, its use as a direct feedstock for the manufacture of building products,” Connell said. “Ohio University’s initial research results show promise with respect to the technical, economic and environmental performance of coal plastic composites, and we look forward to getting involved with helping to advance this opportunity.”
Studies show the global plastic composite market, which is undergoing tremendous growth, is expected to reach $8.76 billion by 2023. If successful, coal composite manufacturing will generate an initial new US coal demand market of over 3 million tons annually, along with new manufacturing jobs.
“If successful, utilising coal in the manufacture of building materials will yield a new sustainable coal end-use which minimises greenhouse gas emissions associated in manufacturing such materials, while meeting a rapidly growing consumer market sector,” said Trembly. “This project is an excellent example of Ohio’s innovative cross-cutting research programming and example of the university’s leadership in national sustainability initiatives.”