PA could be a coal ‘innovation center’

Written by on June 30, 2020

PA could be a coal ‘innovation center’

By Reid Frazier, StateImpact Pennsylvania

June 30, 2020

Coal is piled up at the the Blaschak Coal Corporation pit mine Dec. 4, 2018, in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania. Photo | Matt Smith / Keystone Crossroads

The Department of Energy says it’s spending $120 million to establish research hubs around the country that will look at new ways to use coal. For StateImpact Pennsylvania, The Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier reports Pennsylvania is one of 22 states where the research could take place.


The coal industry has been hurting over the last decade. Coal is used mostly to generate electricity, but increasingly it’s losing market share to natural gas and renewables. 

The DOE is using a new grant program to establish “innovation centers” that will try to find ways to use coal as a material – like in light-weight carbon fiber. 

James Van Nostrand at West Virginia University says the effort is part of a broader Trump administration push to prop up the country’s ailing industry

“That’s completely drying up because coal is not a very cost-effective way to generate electricity. So lots of pressure on DOE to bring the coal jobs back. So let’s try to figure out what else we can use the coal for. So it’s trying to figure out products that coal can be transformed into.”

The deadline for institutions to apply for funding through the program is November. 

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