28 October 2008

Coal To Liquids -- Smart, But Not Politically Correct

The world is full of coal, particularly the cheap low quality coal that is problematic for combustion. But if you take that low quality coal, gasify it, and turn it to liquid fuels, the pollution and contaminants are captured harmlessly for safe disposal. The subsequent liquid fuels and other chemicals -- including fertilisers and polymers -- will make the world far less dependent on the oil-producing state sponsors of terrorism.
In the 'indirect liquefaction' CTL route, coal is first gasified using oxygen and steam to form 'syngas' (a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide). Syngas then can be further processed, via the proven Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) technology, to get liquid fuels like diesel and petrol. Next, depending on coal quality and requisite systems, F-T processes can yield substantial quantities of ammonia. The latter can be used to produce large quantities of nitrogenous fertiliser read urea. Besides, Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology can be incorporated in F-T plant design-and vice versa-to generate power at very high thermal efficiency. The objective ought to be to diffuse IGCC systems in the power sector, with speed. It would then be possible to generate say a third or even 50% more power, using quite unchanged quantities of coal. Clearly, viable CTL technology would have multi-sectoral impact.

The other method, albeit less common is 'direct liquefaction', which adds gaseous hydrogen to a slurry of pulverized coal in the presence of catalysts. The process requires further refining so as to derive high-quality liquid fuels. _ET
Gasification of low quality coal makes excellent sense, and produces a much cleaner product than the simple combustion of that same coal. The partial liberation from dictatorial oil states such as Russia, Venezuela, Iran, and Saudi Arabia that this technology would allow makes it worth doing by itself.

So why do Obama, Pelosi, Boxer, and the other usual demented suspects continue to stand in the way of clean and profitable uses of coal, oil sands, oil shales, and other indigenous energy sources? Because the American voter lets the fools get away with it. Do not piss on my leg and tell me it's raining. You may find yourself needing to sit down to pee for the rest of your life.


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