FOA 1992: Maximizing the Coal Value Chain

The ten projects fall under three areas of interest (AOIs) as follows:

AOI 1: Improved Domestic U.S. Coal Feedstocks for Power Production and Steel-Making

Subtopic 1B: Coal beneficiation pilot-plant testing

1. Low Emissions Upgraded Utility Fuel from Low-Rank CoalsThermosolv LLC (Laramie, WY) will develop and test a patented coal upgrading/pyrolysis technology to recover value-added precursors from lower-rank coals while producing a low-emissions, higher British Thermal Unit beneficiated coal product for utility and industrial applications. The goal of the proposed work is to develop an advanced low-cost coal upgrading technology to produce a stable, upgraded utility fuel while extracting valuable liquid precursors for high-value carbon products. 

DOE Funding: $1,891,501; Non-DOE Funding: $548,124; Total Value: $2,439,625


AOI 2: Producing High-Value Solid Products from Domestic U.S. Coal

Subtopic 2A: Laboratory testing of technologies for making high-value solid products from coal

2. A Novel Process for Converting Coal to High-Value Polyurethane Products Battelle Memorial Institute (Columbus, OH) will mature a novel process to convert high-volatile bituminous and sub-bituminous U.S. coals to high-value polyurethane (PU) foam (solid) products, along with some low-sulfur fuel oil by-product. The results of this project are expected to confirm the commercial viability of a coal-to-high-value, solid PU foam products process.                

DOE Funding: $747,108; Non-DOE Funding: $190,000; Total Value: $937,108

3. Conversion of Coal to Li-ion Battery Grade “Potato” Graphite The George Washington University (Washington, DC) will further develop a recently discovered process to efficiently transform low-cost coal (lignite) into high-performance, high-value (Li-ion grade) “potato” graphite. The project will result in the development of scalable processes for economically upgrading lignite to Li-ion quality graphite, enabling the domestic production of graphite—a strategic and critical material—and significantly reducing the cost of Li-ion batteries used to power a wide range of portable electronic and electric vehicles.

DOE Funding: $748,720; Non-DOE Funding: $200,310; Total Value: $949,030

4. Production of Carbon Nanomaterials and Sorbents from Domestic U.S. CoalThe Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (Champaign, IL) will produce high-value carbon nanomaterials and carbon sorbents from domestic coal resources in a cost-effective manner. After further development, the proposed technology could provide low-cost graphene materials for numerous applications—such as composites, functional coatings, and electronics—generating a new market for domestic coal.

DOE Funding: $749,937; Non-DOE Funding: $238,494; Total Value: $988,431

5. Coal to Carbon Fiber – Novel Supercritical CO2 Solvated Process Ramaco Carbon LLC (Sheridan, WY) will develop a vertically integrated continuous manufacturing process that can transform raw coal feedstocks into pitch and carbon fibers. The project offers a closed-system approach to processing environmentally hazardous intermediates like polycyclic aromatic compounds.

DOE Funding: $733,299; Non-DOE Funding: $323,500; Total Value: $1,056,799

Subtopic 2B: Continuous process testing of technologies for high-value solid products from coal

6. Direct Utilization of U.S. Coal as Feedstock for the Manufacture of High-Value Coal Plastic CompositesOhio University (Athens, OH) will develop coal plastic composite (CPC) decking boards that possess lower manufacturing costs than current commercial wood plastic composite decking boards and meet all applicable ASTM and International Building Code performance specifications. The CPC manufacturing process offers significant advantages, utilizes existing commercial manufacturing equipment, and produces a CPC product with equivalent or superior properties than existing wood composite products.

DOE Funding: $1,500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $506,678; Total Value: $2,006,678

7. Coal to Carbon Fiber (C2CF) Continuous Processing for High-Value CompositesUniversity of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, KY) will develop and scale efficient processing technology for ultra-low quinoline insolubles (QI) coal tar pitch and subsequent mesophase pitch; clarify and simplify tedious continuous fiber processing technologies toward the efficient production of high-performance carbon fiber products; and demonstrate and characterize representative composite parts derived from the coal-to-carbon-fiber (C2CF) paradigm. This project could show the maximized value of the coal resource stream; demonstrate a reduced capex investment risk for C2CF manufacture and pave the way for significant domestic C2CF manufacturing; and demonstrate end-uses for its derived composite materials.

DOE Funding: $1,475,250; Non-DOE Funding: $372,721; Total Value: $1,847,971

8. Experimental Validation and Continuous Testing of an On-Purpose High-Yield Pitch Synthesis Process for Producing Carbon Fiber from U.S. Domestic Coal – Ramaco Carbon LLC (Sheridan, WY) will develop a process to create high-quality carbon fiber precursor material from U.S. coal using low-severity direct coal liquefaction techniques in the synthesis of coal tar pitch. This project could lead to cost reductions to take advantage of a secure, plentiful domestic coal feedstock, and may significantly expand the market for pitch-based carbon fiber.

DOE Funding: $883,365; Non-DOE Funding: $220,842; Total Value: $1,104,207


AOI 3: Alternative Technologies Such as Microwave or Low-Temperature Plasma to Convert Domestic U.S. Coal into High-Performance Carbon Materials

9. Efficient, Ultra-Rapid Microwave Plasma Process for Generation of High-Value, Industrial Carbons and 3D-Printable Composites from Domestic Coal H Quest Vanguard Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA) will demonstrate rapid, efficient, high-yield conversion of commercially-sourced domestic coals using a low-temperature microwave plasma coal pyrolysis technology with subsequent conversion of liquid intermediaries into value-added solid carbon products, namely carbon and graphitic materials for industrial electrode applications and advanced 3D-printable carbon polymer composites. The potential impact of this project is the penetration of coal products into lucrative domestic industries such as energy storage, transportation, electric arc smelting, 3D manufacturing, water and air purification, aerospace, carbon composite manufacturing, and others.

DOE Funding: $750,000; Non-DOE Funding: $207,050; Total Value: $957,050

10. Conversion of Domestic U.S. Coal into Exceedingly High-Quality Graphene for $100 per Ton William Marsh Rice University (Houston, TX) will study flash Joule heating of anthracite and bituminous coal, as well as other carbon sources, to produce flash graphene. The flash graphene manufactured from coal is poised to be the first price-competitive graphene additive for the plastics, steel, aluminum, and concrete industries to enhance the properties of their respective composite materials.

DOE Funding: $750,000; Non-DOE Funding: $187,500; Total Value: $937,500


FOA 1996: Advancing Steam Turbines for Coal Boilers

The two selected projects fall under one AOI as follows:

AOI 1: Advanced Manufacturing Applied to Steam Turbine Parts for Higher Efficiency and Lower Cost Steam Turbines

1. Improve Performance and Cost for Steam Turbine Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul Using Additive ManufacturingGeneral Electric Company, GE Research (Niskayuna, NY) plans to develop additive manufacturing-enabled repair solutions for coal-fired steam turbines to reduce routine maintenance, repair, and overhaul costs, and improve the operational efficiency of steam turbines. Work will focus on components that are among the most commonly replaced and significantly impact performance. Additive manufacturing offers greater customization and flexibility, as compared to traditional manufacturing processes.

DOE Funding: $5,897,199; Non-DOE Funding: $1,474,300; Total Value: $7,371,499

2. Ensemble Manufacturing Techniques for Steam Turbine Components across Length ScalesSiemens Corporation, Corporate Technology (Princeton, NJ) aims to expedite the design and manufacture of steam turbine components through AM to meet the modern power grid demands for improved efficiency and enhanced operational flexibility. Siemens intends to use multidisciplinary technologies to accelerate the development of materials; high-throughput experiments for their qualification; and design flexibility/topology optimization for repair and redesign of components in order to address critical failure mechanisms for improved performance and increased reliability of existing power plant components.

DOE Funding: $5,999,999; Non-DOE Funding: $1,600,562; Total Value: $7,600,561


FOA 2001: Crosscutting Research for Coal-Fueled Power Plants

The ten selected projects fall under three AOIs as follows:

AOI 1: Advanced Manufacturing of Embedded Sensors

1. Additive Manufacturing of Circumferentially Embedded Optical Probe Modules for In Situ Monitoring of Coal-Fueled Steam TurbinesClemson University (Clemson, SC) will design, develop, additively manufacture, test, and validate three types of optical sensor modules (temperature, pressure, and blade tip timing/clearance) for in situ monitoring of the critical operation parameters in coal-fueled steam turbines. These sensor modules will be embedded into General Electric’s Smart Ring and installed into the inner wall of the turbine casing for condition-based monitoring, control, and maintenance scheduling. These embedded smart parts present a novel solution for monitoring the critical equipment and systems in power and energy industry for improved efficiency, reduced emission, and enhanced reliability.

DOE Funding: $1,000,000; Non-DOE Funding: $250,000; Total Value: $1,250,000

2. Embedded Sensors Integrated into Critical Components for In Situ Health Monitoring of Steam TurbinesSiemens Corporation (Princeton, NJ) will develop embedded sensors capable of assessing position, angle, temperature, and the derivatives (e.g., velocity, acceleration, etc.). The goal of this project is to embed the novel sensors using either additively manufactured or extruded waveguides on rotating blades for recording, evaluating, and monitoring blade vibrations in low-pressure turbines.

DOE Funding: $999,918; Non-DOE Funding: $249,980; Total Value: $1,249,898

3. Advanced Manufacturing of Ceramic Anchors with Embedded Sensors for Process and Health Monitoring of Coal BoilersWest Virginia University Research Corporation (Morgantown, WV) will develop advanced manufacturing methods to fabricate and test ceramic anchors with an embedded sensor technology for monitoring the health and processing conditions within pulverized-coal and fluidized-bed combustion boiler systems. The sensors will be incorporated and interconnected through the volume of the ceramic anchor and will not negatively impact the intrinsic properties of the anchor or the monolithic (castable) boiler refractory liner—circumventing the need to insert an isolated stand-alone sensor into the monolithic refractory liners via an access port.

DOE Funding: $999,084; Non-DOE Funding: $255,635; Total Value: $1,254,719


AOI 2: Coal Power Plant Cooling Technologies

4. Enhanced Cooling Tower Technology for Power Plant Efficiency Increase and Operating Flexibility Gas Technology Institute (Des Plaines, IL) will develop and demonstrate a prototype of an economically viable all-weather Sub-Dew Point Cooling Tower (SDPCT) up to 100 kilowatt-thermal with inlet air precooling and dehumidification. System performance will be experimentally tested and modeled for a wide range of process temperatures and flow rates. Data will be collected for the project team review, analysis, and modeling verifications. A technoeconomic analysis will consider supercritical coal-fired power plants located at three typical U.S. locations and three ambient conditions at each location. This range will assess if the SDPCT technology provides substantial benefits for specific locations.

DOE Funding: $1,230,043; Non-DOE Funding: $307,755; Total Value: $1,537,798

5. Water Recovery from Cooling Tower PlumesInfinite Cooling Inc. (Somerville, MA) will build, optimize, and test an electrostatic plume collection system. The team will gain an understanding of cooling tower plume properties, which will be used to optimize the design, material, and electrical properties of the collection device; quantify the yield by flow rate and water quality; and finally push the collection efficiency further by advanced collection enhancement approaches. The final result will be a ready-to-deploy design for a high-throughput water collector. The technology can provide significant water savings and improve water quality, add minimal energy costs, and be retrofitted to existing towers, thereby having a large impact on the water-energy nexus. It could lead to a significant reduction in water usage by cooling towers of coal plants as well as a reduction in chemicals used for water treatment.

DOE Funding: $1,500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $375,000; Total Value: $1,875,000

6. Wastewater Recycling Using a Hygroscopic Cooling SystemUniversity of North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND) will test the feasibility of using the Energy & Environmental Research Center’s hygroscopic cooling technology to eliminate power plant wastewater by recycling the water fraction to augment the plant’s cooling load and collecting the remainder as a solid by-product for reuse or disposal. The team will survey wastewater sources at a candidate host site power plant and collect samples for analysis and a laboratory evaluation of forced precipitation. A key benefit of this technology is that it improves the plant’s overall water-use efficiency, while allowing it to conform with zero-liquid-discharge requirements.

DOE Funding: $660,000; Non-DOE Funding: $165,000; Total Value: $825,000


AOI 3: Modeling Existing Coal Plant Challenges 

7. Damage Accumulations Predictions for Boiler Components via Macrostructurally Informed Material ModelsGeneral Electric Company (Niskayuna, NY) will model material behavior and degradation for nickel-based superalloys used in current and next-generation boiler components. The work will provide physically informed models, capturing the microstructural changes taking place in industrial components under cyclic loading, long duration stress, and high temperature exposure. The models will help the industry evaluate the efficiency and economics of introducing new materials in existing plants.

DOE Funding: $749,852; Non-DOE Funding: $187,463; Total Value: $937,315

8. Investigation of Cycling Coal-Fired Power Plants Using High-Fidelity ModelsGeneral Electric Company (Niskayuna, NY) will conduct a series of analyses to investigate the challenges of cycling coal-fired power plants. Model-based analyses will be performed for the critical components in the boiler island and its damage remediation solutions. These analyses will produce insights into existing coal power plant challenges impacted by cycling operations, and will generate practical and cost-effective solutions to cycle coal power plants to reduce plant failures and extend plant life.

DOE Funding: $749,943; Non-DOE Funding: $187,486; Total Value: $937,429

9. Component Level Modeling of Materials Degradation for Insights into Operational Flexibility of Existing Coal Power PlantsSiemens Corporation (Princeton, NJ) will develop a component level modeling toolkit for materials-based degradation for two key mechanisms that can accelerate with cyclic operations. The validated model developed can 1) be extrapolated to coal and other fossil plants with similar environmental conditions and failure mechanisms to enable plants to operate for longer periods of time under flexible load conditions and 2) be extended to combined-cycle power plants. 

DOE Funding: $749,998; Non-DOE Funding: $202,817; Total Value: $952,815

10. Life Modeling of Critical Steam Cycle Components in Coal-Fueled Power Plants – Southern Research Institute (Birmingham, AL) will calibrate an existing damage accumulation and component life model to a coal-fueled power plant steam cycle, high-pressure turbine, disk/rotor alloy, and a steam cycle Y-block alloy. The model will inform proposed maintenance and inspection schedules based upon historical and current operational data. The model will also provide insight about component lifetime that may ultimately result in a more efficient power cycle.

DOE Funding: $689,876 Non-DOE Funding: $172,469 Total Value: $862,345


FOA 2002: Advanced Materials for High-Efficiency, Flexible and Reliable Coal-Fueled Power Plants

The five selected projects fall under two AOIs as follows:

AOI 1: Single-Topic Awards

1. Development of Corrosion- and Erosion-Resistant Coatings for Advanced Ultra-Supercritical MaterialsTennessee Technological University (Cookeville, TN) aims to develop and evaluate corrosion- and erosion-resistant coatings for AUSC materials using a cost-effective electrolytic co-deposition process. The focus will be on enhancing both corrosion and erosion properties of the electro-co-deposited coatings for the protection of high-pressure steam turbine blades in AUSC pulverized coal-fired power plants.

DOE Funding: $999,999; Non-DOE Funding: $250,756; Total Value: $1,250,755

2. Optimization of WAAM Process to Produce AUSC Components with Increased Service LifeUnited Technologies Research Center (East Hartford, CT) will work to develop the capability for large-area wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) to cost-effectively produce AUSC components with extended design life under severe service conditions. The main objective of this project is to extend structural life through a combination of WAAM process augmentation and implementation of predictive physics-based and machine learning models for design life optimization.

DOE Funding: $999,933; Non-DOE Funding: $249,983; Total Value: $1,249,916

3. Additively Manufactured Graded Composite Transition Joints for Dissimilar Metal Weldments in Advanced Ultra-Supercritical Power Plant West Virginia University Research Corporation (Morgantown, WV) will develop and demonstrate at the lab scale the technical feasibility of producing an innovative functionally gradient composite transition joint part that can be used to connect and join dissimilar metals to cost-effectively solve the critical challenges of premature failure of the conventional dissimilar metal welds under increased cyclic operating conditions of fossil power plants.

DOE Funding: $999,966; Non-DOE Funding: $269,899; Total Value: $1,269,865


AOI 2: Multi-Topic Awards

4. Low-Cost HIP Fabrication of Advanced Power Cycle Components and PM/Wrought IN740H Weld DevelopmentGeneral Electric Company, GE Research (Niskayuna, NY) will work to demonstrate the feasibility of fabricating certain advanced power cycle structures. The work will address both component fabrication cost reduction and welding, two areas of interest relevant to AUSC steam and supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) component manufacturing. The work may accelerate application/adoption of near net shape hot isostatic pressed (HIP) technology in manufacturing AUSC/sCO2 turbine components and other large, complex components for the aerospace, power, and nuclear industries.

DOE Funding: $999,505; Non-DOE Funding: $300,000; Total Value: $1,299,505

5. Welding of Haynes 282 to Steels to Enable Modular Rotors for Advanced Ultra-Supercritical Steam TurbinesSiemens Corporation, Corporate Technology (Princeton, NJ) is planning a technology development project to weld Haynes 282 to several grades of steels that are commonly used for steam turbine rotor applications, which enables the use of expensive superalloys only in locations where they are needed and avoids large monolithic forgings. Welding smaller forgings together will allow original equipment manufacturers in the United States to manufacture large forgings faster and more cheaply.

DOE Funding: $1,000,000; Non-DOE Funding: $408,866; Total Value: $1,408,866


FOA 2003: Process Scale-Up and Optimization/Efficiency Improvements for Rare Earth Elements (REE) and Critical Materials (CM) Recovery from United States Coal-Based Resources

Descriptions of the three selected projects follow:

1. Demonstration of Scaled-Production of Rare Earth Oxides and Critical Materials from Coal-Based Sources Using Innovative, Low-Cost Process Technologies and Circuits University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Lexington, KY) will extend the activities of the existing REE pilot plant to integrate and test new technologies and circuits that will significantly reduce the cost of producing rare earth oxide mixes, cobalt, and manganese at purity levels significantly greater than 2 percent by weight. Concentrate production will be increased from a current rate of 10­–100 grams per day to around 200 grams per day. To significantly reduce the primary cost of producing the concentrates, naturally occurring coal pyrite will be recovered and used in bioreactors to produce the acid needed for leaching.

2. Rare Earth Element Extraction and Concentration at Pilot-Scale from North Dakota Coal-Related FeedstocksUniversity of North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND) will demonstrate at a pilot-scale its novel technology for REE recovery from North Dakota lignite coal and related feedstocks, which have been identified to have some of the highest REE concentrations reported for U.S. coals. The pilot will process at least 100 tons of feedstock. The ultimate significance of this pilot-scale demonstration is the development of a high performance, environmentally benign, and economically viable technology for REE production from lignite coal resources that will limit dependence on foreign supplies, and strengthen the economic and national security of the nation.

3. Development and Testing of an Integrated AMD Treatment and Rare Earth/Critical Mineral PlantWest Virginia University Research Corporation (Morgantown, WV) will develop and test a pilot-scale, continuous process for efficiently treating Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) while producing an enriched REE/CM concentrate. In addition to addressing one of the region’s largest sources of stream pollution, AMD, this new type of AMD treatment plant will generate a steady supply of REE/CM, a strategically important and valuable product stream. The upstream concentration unit to be installed at an active AMD discharge treatment site will simultaneously treat up to 1,000 gallons per minute of AMD while recovering and concentrating a commercially attractive REE/CM product.


FOA 1998: Transformational Sensing Systems for Monitoring the Deep Subsurface

The two selected projects fall under one AOI. Descriptions follow:

AOI 1: Transformational Sensing Capabilities for Characterizing the Deep Subsurface

1. Wireless Microsensors System for Monitoring Deep Subsurface OperationsBattelle Memorial Institute (Columbus, OH) intends to develop, fabricate, and demonstrate a fully integrated wireless microsensor-based downhole sensing system to measure temperature as the primary indicator of CO2 presence, with pressure as a secondary indicator. Deploying this system can produce a network of real-time monitoring points above CO2 storage zones and provide critical data to accurately track and model subsurface movement of the CO2 plume.

2. Casing Annulus Monitoring of CO2 Injection Using Wireless Autonomous Distributed Sensor Networks The University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX) plans to develop and validate an innovative transformational sensor system that integrates wireless autonomous microsensor technology, sensor packaging, emplacement technology, and smart well completions from multiple sources. The expected results will provide field laboratory validation of an integrated distributed wireless intelligent sensor system that provides real-time data, improving the ability to monitor movement of fluids in the subsurface through direct formation measurements.