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Return to Abstracts of Literature 1500-1749
1719. ----------------. [KEITH, P. C.] Synthetic Fuels Promise to Bolster Petroleum Reserves. Chem. Eng., vol. 53, No. 12, 1946, pp. 101-103; Coal Age, vol. 51, No. 11, 1946, p. 134; Combustion, vol. 18, No. 6, 1946, pp. 55-57.
Lecture before the Princeton Bicentennial Conference. The successful conclusion of the coal-to-oil development will increase our potential oil resources materially. With the economic equivalence of gas-to-oil well on its way to being established, the indications are that the economic equivalence of coal-to-oil will follow shortly. German developments have greatly increased the efficiency of coal gasification, and it is reasonable to expect that, since American engineering has improved and lowered the cost of synthetic oil processes, it can also greatly improve and lower the cost of coal gasification. The present German Lurgi process utilizes a highly reactive, noncaking brown coal, but there appears to be no basic reason why a relatively inactive, highly caking bituminous coal could not be similarly gasified to yield a 900-950-B.t.u. gas with a thermal efficiency or 80% plus. Development work is under way, and the indications are that it will be successful. The economic equivalence of brown coal to town gas having been demonstrated, the same for bituminous coal to town gas and pipeline gas should follow. Fuel transportation is an important factor in this respect. If coal can be economically transformed into gas and oil, it will be interesting to compare the cost of transporting energy as coal with cost of transporting it as gas and oil. The relative cost of transporting equivalent amounts of energy in the form of coal, oil and gas from West Virginia to New York are shown to be as follows: Coal $3.35, oil $0.73, gas $1.92. The transformation of coal into gas at 80% thermal efficiency appears economically superior to its transformation into oil. Operating cost for the former is estimated at about $1.00 per ton of coal, exclusive of all fuel charges; therefore, with coal worth $2.50 per ton in West Virginia the transportation of gas looks very attractive, especially gas of 1,000 B.t.u., the production of which seems feasible. The figures for the transportation of coal as oil do not look so attractive. Again, excluding fuel cost, the present predicted cost of transforming a high B.t.u., low-moisture, low-ash coal into oil is about $5.00 per ton or $1.93 per bbl. Until the capital and operating costs of converting coal to oil can be decreased, oil from coal will not compete with coal as an industrial fuel.