Naughty to nice with a coal-made home
Company gets grant to build an eco-friendly coal-based home Metal Tech News – December 23, 2020
Last updated 12/29/2020 at 5:14pm
Instead of brick by brick, X-MAT, the advanced materials division of Semplastics, is looking to build homes lump by lump with coal, and with a recent approval of funding by the Department of Energy to build a test house, this may become a new contemporary material of future homes.
Earlier this month, X-MAT received a $625,000 contract from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory to create coal-derived building materials in the construction of a coal house.
With several multi-million-dollar grants and contracts under its belt, and collaborations with companies like Space Florida, the Department of Energy and even NASA, Semplastics, the Florida-based material engineering company, has been a precision plastic manufacturing company for 20 years, developing specialized components to a broad range of industries.
Formed in 2013, X-MAT, a division of Semplastics, developed a revolutionary high-performance material that combines the properties of metal for its electrical conductivity, the lightweight characteristic of plastic and the potent thermal stability of ceramics.
What is this seemingly miracle material exactly? Coal.
By combining powdered raw coal with a proprietary resin, X-MAT has been successful in creating a material that is extraordinarily lightweight, being two times lighter than Teflon.
Incredibly heat resistant, with an operating temperature of over 1,100 degrees Celsius (2,012 degrees Fahrenheit) this material has no degradation or mass lost after burning, making its maximum operating temperature two times higher than titanium.
And to a similar benefit as graphite, the wonders of carbon shine through once more, with battery performance in X-MAT's X-BATT – in using a mixture of silicon and carbon – is able to improve anode capacity by almost two times current lithium-ion anode capacities.
In developing a method of circular economics for recycled coal waste, Semplastics is endeavoring to turn what would otherwise be considered garbage into a commercially useful and environmentally healthy treasure.
This game-changing material has been used in various applications like fireproof roof tiles, lightweight space mirrors, battery electrodes and even 3D printing ceramics.
"There are so many fascinating, eco-friendly ways to use and recycle coal," said Bill Easter, founder of Semplastics and X-MAT. "Our team has already reimagined coal in unique ways such as the X-TILE, a lightweight, fireproof coal roof tile that can withstand extreme temperatures."
In this most recent funding, in total the NETL has awarded Semplastics and X-MAT $6 million in grants and contracts. In addition to the most recent contract, the firm received a $1.4 million contract to create new uses for coal waste, a $1.5 million grant for X-TILES and a nearly $1 million contract to help fund the research for turning coal into battery materials.
"Building a house almost entirely from coal is next in our docket. We're very thankful to the DOE for its continued support of our work," said Easter.
Further information on Semplastics and X-MAT can be read at Turning coal waste into building treasure in the August 19 edition of Metal Tech News.