Monday, September 29, 2008

Exxon-Mobil Looks at Gasoline from Coal

Synthesis Energy Systems (SES) has entered an agreement with Exxon-Mobil Research and Engineering to examine and develop gasoline from coal, via gasification produced methanol. The methanol approach is a competitor to the Fisher-Tropsch method of producing liquid hydrocarbon fuels from syngas.
This approach to converting coal to gasoline first gasifies the coal, then converts the resulting syngas to methanol for use by the MTG process. The conversion of methanol to hydrocarbons and water is virtually complete and essentially stoichiometric in the MTG process. The reaction is exothermic with the reaction heat managed by splitting the conversion in two parts. In the first part, methanol is converted to an equilibrium mixture of methanol, dimethyl ether (DME), and water.

In the second part, the equilibrium mixture is mixed with recycle gas and passed over a shape-selective catalyst to form hydrocarbons and water. Most of the hydrocarbon product boils in the gasoline boiling range.

ExxonMobil calculates that a feed of around 4.6 million t/year of coal can produce about 1.4 million t/a gasoline—about 36,000 barrels per day. Yield and capital costs are dependent on the coal quality: ash content, moisture content, sulfur and heating value. _GCC
If this process is a more economical producer of gasoline-from-coal than the F-T process, it may see a lot of use. The big obstacle to advanced energy from coal, oil shale, oil sands, heavy oils, and other sources (such as nuclear) is the Luddite US Congress--and the threat of a new Luddite administration in the White House if Obama/Biden are elected.

The fear of CO2 -- which has what plants need -- is one of many pseudo-environmental concerns that has wrapped frigid fingers of fear around the minds of western government leaders. So much so, that they flirt with disastrous and suicidal policies of energy starvation, which contribute to the inevitable economic hardships they cause by over-regulation, over-taxation, and rampant corruption. It is time for things to change, but unfortunately, these corrupt and fearful "leaders" are fixed in place--barnacle-like leeches.

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