TITLE: Recent Developments in Coal Liquefaction in the United States.

AUTHOR: L. E. McNeese;   R. Salmon;   H. D. Cochran.

INST.  AUTHOR: Oak Ridge National Lab., TN.

SPONSOR: Department of Energy.


PUB.  TYPE: Technical Report

PUB.  COUNTRY: United States

SOURCE: Department of Energy [DE],  26 Feb 79,  38p.

NOTES: Energy technology conference and exposition, Washington, DC, USA, 26 Feb 1979.


In this paper we discuss some of the recent developments in the U.S. coal liquefaction program. The order of presentation will be first, chemistry; second, process research and development; and finally, economics and commercialization. Most recent studies seem to indicate that the cost of synthetic liquid fuels from coal in 1978 dollars will be about $25 to $35 per barrel. This, of course, can vary rather widely depending on the nature of the products and the type of financing. Another point to be considered is that inflation tends to generate a climate of uncertainty which discourages large capital investments, especially in a new industry.  A synthetic fuels industry of appreciable size (say 2 million bbls/day) will probably take at least 15 years to build. And this time does not start now - it starts after economic competitiveness is achieved. Also, this is without consideration of possible regulatory or environmental restrictions that could hamper the rate of growth. The expansion of the coal mining industry to provide the necessary feedstock will also have to take place during this same time period, and will compete for investment funds. Considerations such as these tend to make us wonder whether we ought not take a more searching look at the mechanisms by which we expect the synthetic fuels industry to develop. It is not at all clear that natural marketplace forces will be able to build the industry rapidly enough to meet the demands we expect in the next 20 to 30 years. The need for governmental initiatives has been widely discussed. We wish to ephasize here the need for careful consideration of the demand-time curve for synthetic liquid fuels and of the length of time required to build an industry of the size needed. (ERA citation 04:040104)