The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science announced on July 11, 2019 that Minus 100, LLC has been selected for follow-on Phase II award negotiations with DOE/NETL for a ~$1.55 million research grant to develop conductive pigments and suspensions for the conversion of “U.S. Coal to Conductive Inks.” The Minus 100, LLC research & development focuses on the development of coal-derived conductive pigments & suspensions that are primary ingredients for the production of conductive inks.
Conductive inks are part of the growing high-value ink markets that have applications in a number of existing and emerging industrial applications that will help sustain the high-tech industrial growth in the United States. The technical approach incorporates the integration of a number of commercially available and proprietary process steps to provide specific pigment particle size distributions and compositions with functionalized surfaces suitable for the manufacture of conductive inks. Coal, in its natural state, is an amorphous, non-conductive material. The innovation/research involves finding efficient and cost-effective methods of converting this inherently non-conductive, carbon-based material to electrically conductive pigments & suspensions that can be used for the manufacture of conductive inks.
During the Phase I research, Minus 100, LLC was able to produce electrically conductive pigments, which in turn, were converted to conductive inks that satisfied all of the Phase I technical goals for a conductive ink. The initial target applications for the conductive inks will be in the use as thermal heating elements. Thermal heating elements are printed strips of resistive tracks on flexible or non-flexible stock, that create heat when a current is added. These printed strips are used primarily in automotive applications for heated windshields and mirrors as well as for heated seats and in homes/offices for heated floors.
Under Phase II of the research project, Minus 100 intends to scale-up the production of the pigments currently being produced for initial market penetration and will also develop highly conductive pigments for use in electronic circuits and for sensor applications.
Minus 100, LLC will be collaborating with several ink manufacturers to evaluate Minus 100 conductive pigments and suspensions in ink formulations for specific ink printing methods such as flexographic, digital, screen, gravure, and 3D printing methods. Each of the individual commercial printing methods require specific design requirements for both the pigments/suspensions as well as the final ink formulations that depend on the substrates being printed as well as the specific end-use application.
Summary for Members of Congress: Project Title: “U.S. Coal to Conductive Inks.” The project objective is to develop and commercialize manufacturing processes and products using U.S. coals as the primary feedstock for the production of conducive inks. The products produced will assist expansion of existing U.S. coal, steel/metals, graphite, automotive, clothing, microelectronics and printing ink industries.