Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Clean Conversion of Coal to Jet Fuel

Many persons in places of power are growing concerned that there will not be enough liquid fuels in the near future to supply the large fleets of military and civilian aircraft. But a Houston company, Accelergy, claims to have come up with an ideal solution: the clean conversion of plentiful coal, to jet fuel.
The company will initially try to sell fuel to the U.S. military -- the Air Force has already begun initial testing -- and has also started to field inquiries from China and some commercial aircraft and engine manufacturers. Biomass can also be substituted for coal, or at least part of it, in the recipe, depending on the desired characteristics of the final fuel.

The Department of Defense will likely set its standards for synthetic jet fuels in 2013, and CEO Tim Vail claims that Accelergy's fuel will be able to meet those standards.

The key is a process fine-tuned at ExxonMobil in the mid-1990s that turns coal or plant matter directly into a liquid, according to Vail. Unlike the often-criticized Fischer-Tropsch process devised in the 1920s, Accelergy's process does not convert coal into a synthetic gas before transforming it into a liquid. Eliminating gasification greatly reduces carbon dioxide emissions, as well as the total amount of coal (or biomass) consumed to produce liquids, he said. And it's cost-effective.

...The aviation biofuel tests conducted thus far have involved blends where biofuel represents 50 percent of the fuel at best.

"We are the only one that can go 100 percent jet. Everything else has to be blended 50/50," he said. "Think of a predator drone. You can have more energy in the same amount of weight. "

Another potential bonus: Accelergy's fuel can be made economically in modular plants. A 10,000-barrels-a-year facility will be feasible, he said.

Here is roughly how it works: A slurry of pulverized coal is mixed with hydrogen and a proprietary catalyst and is then subjected to high temperatures and pressures. The combination of the catalyst, hydrogen and heat break down the elaborate carbon/hydrogen molecules that make up coal into a petroleum distillate that can then be spun into a synthetic jet fuel or other liquid fuels.

The hydrogen comes from cracking methane found in coal seams and the catalyst, he added, gets consumed in the chemical reactions. Sludge that comes out the other end can be converted to asphalt
. _GTM
The company claims that its process can be profitable with oil in the $50 to $60 a barrel range, but they need to scale up the process before they can prove their claims. To do that, they will need investment, lost of investment. It is only natural that they look to the military for financing, given the currently depleted state of private sector financing.

If the Accelergy process is as much superior to gasification + Fischer Tropsch as the company claims (economically), their approach has tremendous potential for the future.
The graph above (taken from Robert Rapier) suggests that world liquid fuel production will peak in 2012, and that alarming deficits in production of liquid fuels will accumulate very rapidly thereafter. The graph comes from the US DOE EIA report Annual Energy Outlook 2010.

As in any projection into the future, a large number of assumptions were made by the US government agency. But in reality, in order to see such a dropoff in liquid fuels production, one would have to assume a very aggressive geo-political shutdown of liquid fuels -- as in widespread war, or suicidal energy regulations motivated by climate hysteria.

The Obama Pelosi regime has been dedicated to energy starvation (in terms of shutting down fossil fuels) all along. The US DOE is now full of disciples of the energy starvation religion, which no doubt influenced the assumptions made in creating the report and the graph above.

But you, as an intelligent and thoughtful reader, need to challenge the assumptions of such projections. Because such fictions are only the prelude to further intrusions of oppressive government into the private sector -- meaning every single aspect of your life.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts