A press release from Ramaco, a Kentucky-based coal company, says the Department of Energy has awarded it a $7 million grant. The grant is geared towards developing a low-cost carbon fiber using coal as the raw material. Carbon fiber is traditionally made with oil.
This is a step forward for Ramaco that hopes to build a new coal mine in the Powder River Basin called the Brook Mine. Ramaco plans to devote that mine to turning coal into a raw material for products like car parts, building materials, or bikes. If its research is successful, the company hopes coal will be able to compete with oil in manufacturing carbon fiber.
Don Collins, CEO of the Western Research Institute, said there were few other grant opportunities that would let Ramaco study this unique technology.
“They asked specifically for people to study the chemistry, study that molecular structure, and elucidate how variations in those key characteristics influence the ability to make higher strength, low-cost carbon fibers,” he said.
Ramaco’s Brook Mine has yet to receive its permit. The Environmental Quality Council is expected to make their decision August, 1st. Research is set to begin before the Brook Mine is a reality.