WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday Randall Atkins, CEO of Wyoming-based coal technology company Ramaco Carbon, testified before the full U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
His testimony centered on the growing field of coal-to-products, in which the carbon from coal is used to manufacture high-value products and materials, such as carbon fiber.
Atkins appeared at the invitation of ranking member Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming and committee chair Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Both senators praised Ramaco’s innovative focus on coal-to-products during their opening remarks.
In his remarks, Senator Barrasso noted Ramaco’s work in Sheridan, Wyoming, and said “there are great opportunities for coal-to-products technologies. Raw coal can be mined, treated, and refined to separate the carbon content, and then used in high tech, high value products. These products include carbon fiber, activated carbon, and graphene.”
“The use of coal as a feedstock to produce high value products is a promising field,” said Senator Manchin. “These new uses for coal can produce products superior in quality and durability to conventional ones, including certain lightweight, high strength building products and materials like carbon fiber.”
“The demand for carbon fiber, graphite, and graphene will experience double digit annual growth in the years ahead,” Manchin continued. “These new uses for coal also have potential to provide new economic opportunities and revitalize traditional energy producing communities who have been hit the hardest by the energy transition. Ramaco is leading the way in the development of coal to products.”
Embracing Carbon Reserves
In his testimony, Atkins stressed the need for America to embrace its carbon resources, and use them to create new economic and competitive advantages.
“The United States possesses the world’s largest and cheapest carbon reserves. It needs to capitalize on that advantage and develop its own form of a ‘Carbon Valley’ to unlock that full potential,” he said.
Most carbon products today are manufactured with petroleum feedstocks, Atkins noted, which are almost 40x more expensive than the same carbon equivalent from coal.
“If we could make these carbon materials for less cost using coal, it would have a dramatic positive disruption on the cost structure of many industries, as well as improve the environmental and qualitative aspects of many products,” Atkins added.
Atkins, who is also chairman of the National Coal Council, is one of the world’s foremost proponents of coal-to-products research and technology. Ramaco is involved in five current Department of Energy grants focused on coal-to-products, and partnered with two of the United States’ largest national laboratories: Oak Ridge National Laboratory and National Energy Technology Laboratory. Ramaco has developed carbon research facilities in Wyoming and West Virginia.
Also testifying at the hearing were Brian Anderson National Energy Technology Laboratory, Jason Begger of the Wyoming Integrated Test Center, and Guarav Sant of UCLA, who recently won the prestigious NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE for his work in using the carbon dioxide produced by coal in the manufacture of concrete.
Video of yesterday’s testimony can be found at www.ramacocarbon.com/presentations-news. Full video of the hearing can be found at https://www.energy.senate.gov/hearings/2021/4/full-committee-hearing-on-carbon-utilization-technologies.