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Advanced Coal Processing


Advanced Coal Processing at NETL focuses on both enhancing the value of coal as a feedstock and developing new high-value products derived from coal. Research includes testing of laboratory and pilot scale technologies to produce upgraded coal feedstocks and additional revenue producing products. Expanding existing coal property databases assists research efforts and informs potential consumers in domestic global markets.


Advanced Coal Processing Technologies will Extract the Full Economic Value from Our Nation’s Coal Resources by:

  • Developing process options for broadening the slate of products produced from a coal mine
  • Enhancing the value of domestic coals as fuel for power generation and steel making
  • Making U.S. coals more attractive for export

Expanding The Coal Value Chain

Coal Value Chain

The U.S. coal value chain can be extended by manufacturing carbon products directly from coal instead of using petrochemical or biomass feedstocks or by expanding markets for existing coal products (Beige shaded area in the graphic.)

  • Coal can be used to manufacture high value carbon products including carbon fiber, carbon additives for cements and structural composites, battery and electrode materials, carbon nanomaterials and composites, plastic composites, critical materials, coking process by-products and 3D printing materials.
  • Markets for coal as a fuel for power generation or steel making can be expanding by upgrading the properties of raw coal using new approaches including coal dewatering, fine coal cleaning, dry-cleaning processes to upgrade lower-rank reserves, chemical treatment, and biological processing technologies.

The Advanced Coal Processing Technology area has three primary R&D areas:

  • Coal To Carbon Products
    Enables production of cost-competitive, high-value carbon fibers and nanomaterials for use in non-traditional products such as structural materials, 3D printing materials, energy storage and electrode materials, and carbon composites.
  • Feedstock Upgrading
    Enhances coal’s value and expands markets for power generation and steel making with new coal cleaning, treatment, and processing technologies.
  • Coal Properties Database
    Enables coal suppliers and power plant operators to estimate the economic impacts of coal properties and compositions on the efficiency, reliability, and emissions of both existing and new power generation facilities.

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

Technology area contact:
Joseph Stoffa