The sixth-lightest element on the periodic table, carbon is the stuff of life, and increasingly of advanced materials for the low-emissions economy.
Coal is usually thought of as a source of energy for industry and home heating, and as a necessary mineral input into steel-making. The conversion of coal into high-technology composite materials and other uses is less well known. This fast-moving area of research highlights the low-emissions aspect of coal, that this product can be mined and processed to environmental advantage.
3D Printing Carbon
Among manufacturing technologies for carbon-based components is three-dimensional printing. New Zealand could become potentially a 3D printer of advanced materials. Applications include the aeronautical and space industries, lithium-ion batteries, and in building materials.
New Zealand’s West Coast has a wide variety of coal resources in terms of coal rank, organic and other impurities, and physical and chemical properties on combustion. The search is on for the best coals to use in creating advanced carbon-based materials.