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Discover how coal-based anodes, in partnership with X-BATT and CONSOL, are revolutionizing the energy storage landscape.

Maria Guerra, Senior Editor-Battery Technology

October 13, 2023

3 Min Read
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Utilizing coal-based anodes can diversify the supply chain for battery materials.Courtesy of X-BATT

As the global transition to renewable energy solutions and electric vehicles (EVs) accelerates, the demand for advanced energy storage systems has never been higher. Lithium-ion batteries have emerged as the foundation of this energy transformation, and researchers have been carefully exploring alternative materials for the battery's vital components, including the anode. One of the promising breakthroughs in this arena is the innovative integration of coal-based anodes.

Anodes are pivotal to the operation of lithium-ion batteries and are responsible for the storage and release of lithium ions during charge and discharge cycles. Traditionally, graphite has been chosen for anodes due to its stability and reliability. However, the quest for batteries with higher energy density, faster charging, and improved performance has driven innovation in anode materials.

Harnessing coal as an abundant resource

Coal is readily available, abundant in many regions, and cost-effective. These attributes, among others, have made it an attractive candidate for anode materials. Yet, using coal for anodes raises critical environmental and sustainability concerns, given its historical association with carbon emissions and ecological damage as a fossil fuel. But if using carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technologies, carbon emissions linked with coal usage can be harnessed, potentially offsetting the carbon footprint of coal-based anodes and aligning them with sustainability objectives, bolstering their eco-friendliness and enhancing their viability in the transition to more sustainable energy solutions.

Utilizing coal-based anodes can diversify the supply chain for battery materials by reducing dependence on traditional graphite anodes. This diversification can mitigate supply chain risks related to shortages or geopolitical challenges in graphite mining.

Innovations in coal-based anodes

Researchers are exploring methods to process coal and integrate it with other materials to craft anode composites with superior properties. One approach involves merging coal with ceramic SiOC (Silicon Oxycarbide) polymers called Polymer-Derived Ceramic (PDC)—which has a high specific capacity of 500-800 mAh/g compared to graphite that has 320- 360 mAh/g.

By integrating ceramic-forming polymers with impure carbon materials, these anodes offer flexibility and versatility, utilizing readily available resources without reducing battery performance. Their low cost and scalability make them an economically attractive option for mass production, further boosting their viability in the energy storage sector.

X-BATT and CONSOL collaboration

X-BATT, a company specializing in advanced battery materials, has been working on integrating coal with its proprietary, low-cost, resin-based technology to produce high-performance, domestically sourced anode materials with the Department of Energy since 2020.

Recently, X-BATT has announced a strategic alliance with CONSOL Innovations, a subsidiary of CONSOL Energy Inc.—an American energy company. This partnership is set to redefine the battery technology landscape by expediting the development of coal-based anode technology. The merging of expertise and resources between these two companies is channeled through the newly established entity, C-BATT Innovations LLC. This dynamic collaboration is committed to advancing domestic battery materials derived from coal toward full commercialization.

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Founder and CEO of X-BATT, Bill Easter, stated, “Collaborating with a forward-looking energy leader like CONSOL propels our technology to the next level. The ability to supplant graphite with an abundant, domestically sourced coal presents an eco-friendly solution for the growing demand for lithium-ion batteries.”

“We continue to invest in the coal-to-products sector,” stated Dan Connell, Senior Vice President of CONSOL Innovations. “This opportunity is focused on coupling abundant domestic raw materials with cutting-edge technology to unlock new sustainable uses for coal, and we are excited to team with X-BATT to pursue it further.”

Coal-based anode technology represents an innovative and sustainable approach to advancing energy storage technology, offering a pathway to a greener and more efficient energy future.

 

About the Author(s)

Maria Guerra

Senior Editor-Battery Technology, Informa

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