DOE-funded research to focus on coal-derived products

Marshall University’s Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences (CEGAS) and the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) are collaborating on a $1.9 million Department of Energy-funded project with the Universities of Utah and Wyoming. Dr. Tony Szwilski is the director of CEGAS, interim chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and project co-principal investigator.

“The project is part of Marshall’s efforts to take advantage of West Virginia’s abundant resources, especially high-value coal-derived products,” Szwilski said.

This project will provide sub-pilot scale verification on the production of isotropic and mesophase coal-tar pitch (CTP) for carbon fiber production, using coals from several U.S. coal-producing regions, including West Virginia.

The proposed experimental activities will focus on the development of coal to carbon fiber technology through scale-up of laboratory work to continuous processing at sub-pilot scale, and development of technology for producing a solid carbon byproduct from coal with significant market potential. The objective is to improve the economic viability and competitiveness of carbon fiber production from coal.

Work will include the development of a multidimensional data analysis and visualization platform that specifically targets market analysis. Christine Risch at CBER will focus on the development of economic models predicting the viability of different technologies in several regional contexts and under varying market conditions for value propositions of the spectrum of coal-derived products created.

Dr. John Maher is the vice president for research at the Marshall University Research Corporation.

“We’re excited about the project and what will come from the collaboration between CEGAS and CBER and what it could mean for research on coal-derived products in West Virginia,” Maher said.

This is significant step towards producing coal-derived, low-cost carbon fiber for numerous markets leading to economic development opportunities. For more information, contact Dr. Tony Szwilski, szwilski@marshall.edu.