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Carbon Ore Processing


Coal as a Critical Domestic Resource

Coal is a critical domestic resource that has contributed to U.S. economic growth for over a century. However, in a shifting energy generation paradigm, innovation is needed to extract the full economic value from coal. The Carbon Ore Processing (COP) Program at NETL delivers solutions to this challenge with novel technologies for producing valuable products from coal-derived sources. Laboratory- and pilot-scale research and development (R&D) within the program promises 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, ranging from high-volume market products to high-value market products, 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 computer memory devices, carbon composites, and carbon-containing anodes for batteries. Coal’s abundance and low-cost also makes it an attractive feedstock for high-volume applications such as building materials. Disruptive new technologies that enable these diverse products from coal expand the U.S. coal value chain, sustaining jobs within a critical sector of the US economy as consumption for power generation decreases.

Examples of products pursued by R&D within the COP program include:

  • Graphene, quantum dots, conductive inks, enhanced textiles, battery anodes, synthetic graphite, and supercapacitor materials for high-value use.
  • Carbon foam (graphitic or non-graphitic), roofing tiles, siding, decking, insulation, joists/studs, sheathing, tiles and carpet, wraps and veneers, and architectural block for high-volume use.

The Carbon Ore Processing Technology area has three primary R&D areas:

  • Coal-Derived Carbon Products
    Enables development of new materials and manufacturing processes that utilize domestic coal to produce advanced carbon products.
  • Feedstock Upgrading
    Enhances coal’s value as a feedstock for new and expanding coal applications and industries.
  • Coal Properties Database
    Enables consumers to optimally pair U.S. coal for their end-uses by utilizing an integrated smart system with machine learning and big data tools.

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