driver because of pioneering work done there in computing and
And while these projects are strategically located in coal-
producing regions, the interest in the potential quality of life
improvements that could be made possible by carbon-based
materials is much broader than simply those who are interested
Take, for example, an idea that was showcased in the
future technology tent at this year’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG
construction trade show: the use of carbon fiber in concrete
to turn it into a conductor, leading to reduced energy costs in
buildings, longer-lasting roads that require less maintenance,
and wireless charging of vehicles driving on “smart roads.”
Think, just for a moment, how much carbon-based material it
would take to produce carbon fiber on this kind of scale, and
it’s not hard to imagine that the future could hold some exciting
possibilities for uses of coal that haven’t historically been part
of the market.
As the new technologies of the current century develop – from
the increasing use of “green” energy technologies that require
more rare earth elements to the development of durable
construction methods that incorporate large-scale use of carbon
fibers – the sky is the limit in terms of the potential for technology
to drive a new category of demand for coal.
We don’t know yet which products will ultimately drive demand.
Some things that are currently being developed will take off in
the future; others may fail. But the future holds great potential,
not only for what’s currently in the pipeline but also for other
uses and technologies that haven’t been identified yet.
It’s possible, some say, that in the future these high-tech uses
for coal may replace and even surpass traditional uses. A
decade ago, such a prediction may have sounded like pie in the
sky, but today the idea of a third type of industry driving demand
for coal is looking much more plausible.
Some of these new carbon-based materials and products are
no longer theoretical; they’re real, and they’re hurtling toward
commercialization. Just as the high-tech mines of today
are a far cry from the simple mining methods of your great-
granddaddy’s era, the processing and uses of coal tomorrow
will be a far cry from what we have had in the past and even
what we have today.
Sometimes it may feel like the wheels of technology turn slowly,
but if you look back over the decades, it’s amazing how much
progress has taken place. That progress is set to continue –
in a direction that’s not only good for the coal industry, but for
building a better world.
RICHWOOD IMPACT SADDLES
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