TECHNOLOGY

Ramaco Carbon in coal-to-products collaboration

Wyoming, US-based Ramaco Carbon is partnering with the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to look at innovations that can produce advanced, high-value carbon materials and products by converting coal.

 Officials from Ramaco Carbon and Oak Ridge Lab met at Oak Ridge in September 2019. Photo: Oak Ridge National Laboratory/US Department of Energy

Officials from Ramaco Carbon and Oak Ridge Lab met at Oak Ridge in September 2019. Photo: Oak Ridge National Laboratory/US Department of Energy

Under the terms of the five-year umbrella cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA), the companies will develop projects that involve coal as a feedstock for making end-products that could include carbon fibres, building products and composites, as well as electrodes for energy storage devices and new materials for additive manufacturing.

Ramaco Carbon operates under the same umbrella as metallurgical coal producer Ramaco Resources.

Both Ramaco Carbon and the DOE's Office of Fossil Energy will fund the research work, but financial details were not disclosed.

It is not the first time the two groups have collaborated; under separate agreements, the pair teamed up on four years of related research.

"The agreement brings together ORNL's chemical and materials science and engineering, computational science and advanced manufacturing expertise with Ramaco Carbon's coal-based research, manufacturing and 3D printing facilities being developed near Sheridan, Wyoming," Ramaco Carbon said.

"Ramaco Carbon's interest in the development of coal to products aligns with areas in which ORNL has extensive expertise and background. ORNL is also home to the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility, DOE's only designated user facility dedicated to carbon fiber innovation, with a customisable platform that validates new conversion technologies at semi-production scale."

The final decision for permitting the Brook mine which is envisaged to provide feedstock for coal-to-carbon products rests with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. According to local media outlets, the descision is expected this summer.

Ramaco Carbon chairman and CEO Randall Atkins said: "We hope that by working with ORNL and the other national labs, we can create novel ways to use coal to both stimulate the economy and help ensure our national security."

Ramaco Carbon's similar research and development ties in 2018 involved the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL); it looked at coal for graphene, carbon nanotubes and to recover rare earth minerals.

The company is part of five current DOE grants in the coal-to-products field, it said.

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