DOE Invests $1.5 Million to Explore Benefits of Carbon-Based Building Materials

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) announced the selection of three projects to receive $1.5 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development (R&D) to explore how carbon-based building materials can support the Administration’s commitment to building a clean energy economy that creates good-paying union jobs and transforms disadvantaged areas into healthy and thriving communities.

The selected projects will investigate the impacts of using carbon-based building materials, including opportunities to develop superior construction materials that offer lower lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions and other improved properties. Superior carbon-based building materials may also contribute to the development of a new industry—creating new jobs for communities that have disproportionately suffered adverse economic, health, environmental, and climate impacts.

 The selected projects follow:

  • Low Cost, Rapid and Scalable Microwave Carbon-Oree Melt-Casting for Modular Carbon-Based BuildingsC-Crete Technologies (Stafford, Texas) aims to complete bench-scale testing, demonstrate the feasibility of modular, carbon-based building prototypes that meet project objectives using a novel, energy-efficient processing technique to convert carbon-based materials to high-performance building components, namely microwave melt-casting. Key features of this technology will include: 1) high-strength, tough and lightweight properties; 2) no external binder via microwave-induced fusion; 3) direct utilization of mined carbon-based materials; 4) scalability and ease of implementation; 5) energy-efficient processes, 6) low-risk technology; and 7) no concerns on heavy metals.
    DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Value: $625,000
  • CFoamHouseMassachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts) plans to deploy carbon foams (CFoam) as core materials for all composite buildings, with a prime focus on housing. The project will focus on using CFoam as a potential partner material for carbon nanotube composite panels, featuring a one-step formation that may have potential for low-cost mass production. Success in this project will enable CFoam to be a material that offers a non-combustible, acoustically-absorptive, compression-carrying core that suits building use versus polymeric foams that are poor in these respects. Additionally, the electro-thermal capacity of CFoam could be leveraged to permit both heating and cooling in place of separate systems.
    DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE Funding: $125,000; Total Value: $625,000
  • Development of Novel Sintered Carbon-Ore Building MaterialsMicrobeam Technologies (Grand Forks, North Dakota) aims to develop and establish a novel method for the flexible production of low-temperature sintered carbon building materials. Microbeam Technologies Incorporated and the University of North Dakota have developed a method for producing high-value carbon-based building materials using a flexible manufacturing process to produce products such as blocks and foams. The manufacturing process involves sintering of carbon-based materials with additives that produces physical and chemical interactions that significantly enhance the strength and other physical properties of the materials.
    DOE Funding: $499,995; Non-DOE Funding: $131,705; Total Value: $631,700

Projects will be managed by FECM’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management funds research and development projects to reduce the risk and cost of advanced fossil energy technologies and further the sustainable use of the Nation’s fossil energy resources. To learn more about the programs within the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, visit FECM’s website or sign up for FECM news announcements. More information about the National Energy Technology Laboratory is available on the NETL website.