“Reduce, reuse, recycle”, local company wants to help the coal industry


TRIADELPHIA W.Va. (WTRF) Virginia Tech and Touchstone Research Laboratory have teamed up to repurpose waste coal. The Department of Energy has granted 1.25 million dollars to this new idea.

Director of Research and Development for Touchstone Research Laboratory, Brian Gordon says this grant was vital in moving forward with this project.  

We believe the future of coal is coal to products. What that means is instead of using coal as a source of energy by burning it; we’re going to turn it into products.

Brian Gordon, Director of Research and Development for Touchstone Research Laboratory

Creating graphite from waste coal or more commonly referred to as “GOB,” has both cost and environmental benefits. 

Gordon says this is a sustainable use of waste coal as a newly-developed resource.  

The current project is going to be to be looking at waste coal as a source of a new product, a new way of making synthetic graphite.

Brian Gordon, Director of Research and Development for Touchstone Research Laboratory  

Gordon says synthetic graphite can be used for lithium-ion batteries and crucibles for making solar cells.  

Well, what does that mean?  

Dwayne Morgan, Senior Research scientist says it very similar to their carbon foams.  

We’ll take lump coal that’s out of the ground, normally it goes through a beneficiation process or froth cleaning like washing if you will.  Once it’s been cleaned in that regard it can go into power plants to be used for energy.

Dwayne Morgan, Senior Research Scientist  

The idea behind this technology is intend to create affordable synthetic graphite to support the industries where its most needed.  

They say they’re set to get begin this operation in December at the earliest. 


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