Sustainability and technology is a combination many may compare to oil and water. However, Semplastics, a material engineering company, is changing this misconception by bringing coal waste to additive manufacturing.

X-MAT, the Advanced Materials Division of Semplastics, has been awarded a $1.2 million contract from the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management to research and test coal-enhanced filaments and resins with 3D printing.

“We’re recycling coal waste and reimaging it,” said Bill Easter, founder of X-MAT and Semplastics. “We’re excited to receive this grant from the DOE so that we can continue to research ways to reuse coal waste. With this project, we’re seeing technology’s ability to offer innovative sustainable solutions.” This cost-effective process will utilize high volumes of waste to produce high-value, in-demand products.

The DOE’s award focuses on companies interested in utilizing coal waste for 3D printing filaments. X-MAT plans to apply its materials technology of high-temperature plastics and ceramic composites to develop 3D printer filaments using at least two of the most common coal waste materials — bituminous coal fines and fly ash.

After research, the project will take the best filament formulations to produce several demonstration objects with a commercially available 3D printer.

“We’re 3D printing coal waste — that’s cool,” Easter said. “It’s sustainable, eco-friendly and continues our company’s mission to give coal a new reputation.”

Along with the 3D printing research, X-MAT recently completed their new state-of-the-art battery lab. The lab will allow the company to continue its research both in the recycling of spent graphite for Lithium-ion batteries and in how to use coal in battery materials.

To date, X-MAT has been awarded more than $10.7 million in contracts and grants.