Improving Coal-Derived Carbon Precursors to Produce Critical Graphite Materials for Modern Technologies

A. Azenkeng, N.E. Stanislowski, J.D. Laumb
Energy & Environmental Research Center,
United States

Keywords: coal, carbon precursors, graphite, critical minerals


Critical minerals and materials have a wide range of important applications for a variety of modern technologies, including defense, electric vehicles (EVs), consumer electronics, and clean energy technologies. Rare earth elements (REEs) are widely used in various applications such as defense, EVs, and wind turbines, while lithium, cobalt, and graphite are key source materials for clean energy and energy storage technologies. This study aims to investigate efficient ways to synthesize graphite from abundant coal resources to meet the needs of a growing demand for graphite due to global transition to clean energy technologies that rely on batteries. Preliminary results show significant reduction in coal ash impurities that are detrimental to making battery-grade graphite from coal. Graphitization of the resultant improved coal precursors yields promising degrees of graphitization and encouraging morphological characteristics that can potentially produce good battery grade graphite. Successful scale-up of this approach could alleviate the need for foreign import of graphite as well as provide an approach that can be tailored to make battery-grade graphite from abundant and relatively cheap domestic coal resources.