Marshall University civil engineers to conduct research for the Air Force


Marshall University’s Department of Civil Engineering has received $1.3 million from Kenai Defense Company LLC to help with an Air Force Civil Engineering Center research project, exploring applications for the use of carbon nanostructures.

Dr. Greg Michaelson, a faculty member in civil engineering and the associate dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, will be principal investigator on the project, with help from other civil engineering faculty members Dr. Andrew Nichols, Dr. Suk Joon Na and Dr. Sungmin Youn.

“The main goal of the research is to assess the viability of producing carbon nanomaterials (such as graphene, carbon nanotubes, etc.) from locally available coal in West Virginia,” Michaelson said. Carbon nanomaterials can be used widely in material science and engineering, but most commercially available products are not domestically produced.

“This project looks to see if West Virginia coal is a viable feedstock source for production of these nanomaterials,” Michaelson said. “Marshall University will be the lead in sampling coal resources across the state, conducting bench-scale testing in producing nanomaterials from our local resources, and testing their performance in reinforcing asphalt and concrete installations.

“While our focus is applying these nanomaterials to strengthen and extend the life of asphalt and concrete, just the potential of locally generating these materials has a significant benefit.  Carbon nanomaterials have vast applications in civil, mechanical, electronic, and aerospace engineering systems. It’s a great opportunity for West Virginia to contribute to a growing national interest in being able to source these materials locally.”

“The faculty members in the Department of Civil Engineering who will be conducting this research bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to a project that has exciting applications,” said Dr. Isaac Wait, professor of civil engineering and chair of the Department of Civil Engineering said. “Translating science and engineering into solutions that benefit West Virginia and our region is a key focus of our department, and this initiative has the potential to help develop new technologies, build new markets and provide valuable experience for our students.”

Marshall University is appreciative of its West Virginia Congressional delegation for supporting the project, said Charlotte Weber, vice president for government relations at Marshall.

“This project helps the Air Force solve capability gaps and provides for new ways to produce carbon nanomaterials using our West Virginia coal,” she said.

For more information about Marshall’s Department of Civil Engineering, visit

Contact: Jean Hardiman, University Relations Specialist, 304-696-6397,

Recent Releases