The coal industry can radically change its purpose from environmentally dirty combustion in the furnaces of thermal power plants to an element necessary for creating "green" energy accumulators. Scientists have successfully converted raw carbon powder into nanographite, which is used in lithium-ion batteries, among other things.
This is stated in the study "Converting raw carbon powder to polycrystalline nanographite by microwave treatment using metal", published in Nano-Structures & Nano-Objects magazine.
Previous research has shown microwaves can be used to reduce the moisture content of coal and remove sulfur and other minerals, but in this latest experiment, the only treatment needed was to pulverize raw coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, mining.com reports.
During the experiment, carbon powder was placed on copper foil and sealed in glass containers with a gas mixture of argon and hydrogen before being placed in a microwave oven. Then high temperatures, copper foil and gas turned the carbon powder into polycrystalline graphite.
Today's production of 99.99% pure anodic grade graphite is expensive and produces toxic waste. The final cost is not so much the material as it is the cleaning process.
One lithium-ion battery of an electric vehicle uses about 25 kg of pure graphite to create an anode.