Inorganic carbon foam material manufacturer CFoam (ASX: CFO) is advancing a US-funded project targeting applications which could utilise its coal-derived carbon foam at large scale.
In January, the project – titled “Continuous Processing of Carbon Foam Products Made from Coal at Atmospheric Pressure” – received $2.42 million in funding from the US Department of Energy’s Office of Fuel Energy.
CFoam will receive $1.523 million of this funding and a cost share arrangement between CFoam and 25% shareholder Consol Energy will fund a further $498,000.
The project will seek to create coal-derived carbon foam for competitive end uses where volume and cost are paramount, such as in the building industry.
CFoam aims to create a continuous manufacturing process at atmospheric pressure to generate well-formed carbon foam panels and lightweight aggregates.
If successful, the company could drive significant cost reductions in the manufacture of carbon foam through lowered capital and labour costs.
It would also reduce the cycle time to make carbon foam from weeks to hours, as well as enabling the output of much larger volumes of product.
CFoam said the benefits would enable carbon foam to enter much larger markets and create “meaningful demand” for US coal.
CFoam has already delivered and installed a continuous kiln with 68 foot-long conveyor belt and a nitrogen generation absorber system at its manufacturing facility in West Virginia.
Construction drawings for a gas-fired incinerator thermal oxidiser have been approved and utility upgrade works are ongoing with conduit for a 500 amp service run and concrete works completed.
Operating permits for the facility are progressing and further work is being done on services, delivery and installation of additional equipment.
CFoam is targeting the end of the current quarter for the completion of this work, with final works and commissioning planned for later this year.
Rigid foam products
CFoam products are made from coal, pitch or lignin feedstock and manufactured to have a rigid foam structure, similar in appearance to pumice stone, but with different properties.
The products are currently used across a variety of markets including composite tooling for the aerospace sector, and energy absorbing and defence applications.
Automotive applications for energy absorption and fire resistance are also expected to become significant markets in the near future.
CFoam said it seeks to meet growing demand for ultra-high-end performance engineering materials in the industrial, aerospace, military and commercial sectors.