Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

Committee Chair

John W. Zondlo.


This research focuses on using the U.S.' abundant coal reserves to create carbon fuels for the production of energy in a very efficient and environmentally friendly manner via the use of a Direct Carbon Fuel Cell (DCFC). This cell utilizes a process by which carbon is electrochemically converted directly to electricity, allowing theoretical cell efficiency to approach 80%. Using carbon made from the solvent extraction of coal eliminates most of the volatiles, ash, and sulfur from the fuel while most of the remaining NOX, sulfur, and fly-ash byproducts are captured by the cell itself. The aim of this project is to investigate coal-derived carbon fuel for a DCFC made by Scientific Applications & Research Associates (SARA). This DCFC is unique in that the fuel also acts as the cell's anode, necessitating that the coal-derived carbon fuel be electrically conductive. The cell also requires the fuel to be in solid cylindrical form. A method to produce solid cylindrical carbon fuel rods was developed, and fuel rods were made with varying amounts of petroleum coke, coal tar binder pitch, and either one of two coal-derived fuels (Cenfuel and Solvent Extracted Carbon Ore, or SECO). These fuel rods were then analyzed for their chemical composition, density, and electrical resistivity. The least amount of binder necessary to hold the fuel rod together was found to be 10% by weight. The resistivity of the rods made with SECO, was lower than for those made with any other material, having reached a low value of 80 to muO-m for the 100% SECO rod. The SECO rods also had consistently lower ash and sulfur content. SARA test results indicate that coal-derived rods perform significantly better than their graphite counterparts due to increased electrochemical activity in the DCFC. This suggests that SECO could be an excellent fuel for the DCFC.