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Carbon Ore Processing


Coal as a Critical Domestic Resource

Coal is a domestic resource that has contributed to U.S. economic growth for over a century. However, under a shifting energy generation paradigm, innovation is needed to extract the full economic value from coal and to remediate legacy impacts associated with coal extraction and utilization. The Carbon Ore Processing Program at NETL delivers solutions to this challenge with novel technologies for producing valuable products from coal and coal wastes. Laboratory and pilot-scale research and development (R&D) supported by the program aims to elevate the value of our nation’s coal resources and transform its use for the future. The program focuses on developing a range of coal-derived products, spanning the entire value spectrum from high volume through high value, as shown below.

Transforming the Coal Value Chain

ACP Value chain


Click to view the Carbon Ore Processing Interactive Projects Map
Click to view the Carbon Ore Processing Interactive Projects Map

Coal’s unique structure and composition makes it well suited as a feedstock for high value carbon products such as carbon fibers, graphite for batteries, additive manufacturing filaments and resins, and carbon nanomaterials for advanced electronic and metal alloy applications. Coal is also abundant and low-cost, making it an attractive feedstock for high-volume applications such as building materials, as a concrete additive, and polymer composites. These markets, which are outside of coal’s traditional thermal and metallurgical roles, expand the U.S. coal value chain and sustains jobs within a critical sector of the US economy.                        

Examples of products pursued by R&D within the Carbon Ore Processing Program include:

  • Graphite for electrochemical applications and carbon fibers for carbon-carbon composites and polymer enhancement.
  • Carbon fibers/foams and modified coal and coal wastes for building materials such as roofing tiles, siding, decking, insulation, joists/studs, sheathing, tiles and carpet, wraps and veneers, and architectural block.
  • Carbon nano-materials such a graphene, quantum dots, and nanotubes for additive manufacturing (filaments, resins, and conductive inks), battery anodes, supercapacitors, memristors, and carbon-metal alloys.

For more information on potential new markets for coal and the emerging technologies being developed by the Carbon Ore Processing Program, click on the links under Explore the Site.



Explore the Site


NETL implements this effort as part of DOE’s Advanced Energy Systems Program.

Technology area contact:
Joseph Stoffa