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7

APRIL Issue

driver because of pioneering work done there in computing and

electronics.

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

in coal.

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.

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®

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Contact Richwood today for your on-site evaluation.

www.richwood.com

(800) 237-6951 | (304) 525-5436 |

info@richwood.com

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