Thursday, May 5, 2011

Liquefied Coal will be China's Future

Coal is a high carbon content, but only 5% of hydrogen content in the solid. And liquid fuels (crude oil extracted from) compared to coal is not easy to handle and transport.

By carbon and hydrogen, coal can be directly or indirectly, into liquid fuels for transport, one of which is coking or pyrolysis, another method is liquefied. As a result of coal into liquid fuel costs than the high cost of crude oil refined, but relatively low price of coal itself, which is coal liquefaction technology will be implemented as a major motivating factor.

With the diminishing oil reserves, can be expected some time in the future, will need alternative liquid fuel. As the world's most abundant reserves of coal, coal liquefaction is one of them.

World Unconventional Production 

Back in the early 70s, due to soaring international oil prices, the United States, Britain and Japan and other countries began to carry out extensive research and development of coal liquefaction technology. From the 80's, most of the coal liquefaction project was shelved, but the exception of South Africa. The reason is not oil and natural gas resources in South Africa, only the rich coal resources, In addition, until the mid-'80s, South Africa by a 30-year trade embargo, these factors have contributed to large-scale use of coal liquefaction products in South Africa. Currently, 60% of transport fuels in South Africa is provided by the coal.
World Coal Production 

With a shortage of domestic oil and an automobile market that's now the world's biggest, China has begun a large-scale program to transform its abundant coal resources into motor fuels. It's already home to the world's largest coal liquefaction plant--a facility in Inner Mongolia that reached its full capacity last year and can now pump out a million gallons of diesel fuel per day.

The plant made China only the second country in the world, after South Africa, to successfully derive liquid fuels from coal on a commercial scale. Built by coal producer Shenhua Group, the facility uses the heat and hydrogen generated by gasifying a small amount of coal to brew a wet slurry made from a second stream of coal into diesel fuel. The process makes economic sense but inflicts an environmental double whammy. Simply making the fuel produces prodigious amounts of carbon dioxide, even before the fuel itself is burned. It also uses enormous amounts of another scarce Chinese commodity: water.

China Coal Consumption 
Despite these negatives, China will keep pursuing the technology. "They do not have a better way to meet this need," says Qingyun Sun, a coal-to-­liquids expert at West Virginia University. Indeed, Shenhua Group is planning to quintuple its coal-to-diesel capacity by 2013. And that company is not the only player involved.

Other Chinese plants are turning coal into methanol and catalytically synthesizing gasified coal into a variety of chemical commodities. Since 2007, Chinese fuel marketers have been blending a billion gallons or more into gasoline at the pump. To try to mitigate emissions, Shenhua has started a small carbon sequestration project that is expected to inject 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide into a deep saline aquifer by the end of this year. Its vast plant can potentially capture 2.9 million tons of carbon dioxide annually--about four-fifths of the plant's emissions.

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