Columbus, Ohio – Battelle has been awarded a grant by the US Department of Energy to develop a process to create polyols from coal. The aim is to use these to manufacture polyurethane foam.
In a collaboration with the Ohio Coal Development Office, Battelle plans to exploit research it carried out in the early 1970s to make polyols from bituminous coal. It would also make low-sulfur fuel oil as a by-product. The coal to polyol process is solvent based, the company says. It was originally patented in 1974.
Battelle hopes the R&D project will confirm the commercial viability of a coal-to-high-value solid foam products process. Coal currently sells for $50-60/ton, it says, compared to the $5000-6000/ton it cites for PU foam products. This would represent a value increase of two orders of magnitude.
‘This is an important project to illustrate the importance of employing a wide variety of approaches to use fossil fuels in an environmentally responsible way and reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere,’ said Satya Chauhan, the project’s principal investigator.