West Virginia coal could be playing a greater role in powering phones or cars. X-MAT, the Advanced Materials Division of Semplastics, is working on breakthrough technology to take clean coal and use it for batteries.

Along with this new coal research, Semplastics’ battery lab at the University of Central Florida has had a number of recent breakthroughs, including the testing of waste graphite as a power source. The company is working on proving the patent-pending X-MAT coating technology can make recycled graphite twice as powerful as new graphite.

The Department of Energy (DOE) noticed X-MAT’s work. It has awarded a nearly $1 million contract to help fund the research for turning coal into batteries. This is the second major contract the DOE has awarded X-MAT for developing new, cleaner ways to use coal.

Last year, Semplastics won a $1.5 million DOE grant for coal-infused roof tiles. X-MAT’s eco-friendly roofing tiles, the X-TILE, are lightweight, fireproof and can withstand extreme temperatures.

“We are focused on finding new and better ways to recycle materials — some of it literally trash — to power and protect the world,” X-MAT Founder Bill Easter said. “We are thankful for the continued support from the DOE and for the new contract to further battery research with coal.”

“Our patented technology is showing the battery industry that there are new substances that can be used to help protect the planet and drive down the cost of materials used in batteries of all types,” he added. “This new contract will help us further the development.”

Over the past several years, X-MAT has received federal and state awards for its development of high-performance materials that are lightweight, highly conductive and strong.