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The United Nations Reports on Coal Conversion to Hydrocarbons

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001516/151688e.pdf

A lot of us, over the years, have heard the name "UNESCO", and understand that is something that has to do with the United Nations.

But, we doubt that very many of us know what "UNESCO" actually means or stands for; or, what it is, exactly, that "UNESCO" actually does.

In brief, the acronym stands for the "United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization"; and, more can be learned via:

Introducing UNESCO | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; wherein we're told, in part, that:

"UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information."

And, interestingly, one of the ways UNESCO believes will "contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty", and "sustainable development" is the conversion of abundant Coal into liquid hydrocarbon fuels; fuels capable of replacing those that currently impoverish the have-not nations to obtain and otherwise inspire international conflict.

The "United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization" points herein, in fact, in partnership with Shell Oil Company, specifically to China's development of a thriving Coal liquefaction and conversion industry as a shining example of how a poor nation, rich in Coal reserves, can free itself from international economic enslavement, and thereby achieve some higher level of well-being and prosperity for it's people.

Comment follows excerpts from the initial link in this dispatch to:

"UNESCO/Shell Chair in Coal Gasification Technology:

Report on Applying Coal Gasification Technology in China's Coal Chemical Industry

The UNESCO/Shell chair (was) established during May 2003 in China at Institute of Coal Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences with the funding support from Shell China.

The UNESCO/Shell Chair promoted Chinese industries to understand the process of advanced coal gasification technology by strengthening the partnership between research institute, university, and industry, which in return, speeds up application of the technology, and promotes social development through scientific interaction.

Coal gasification technology provides a clean and efficient way to utilize coal.

Syngas produced by high temperature and high pressure through coal gasification technology could be used for electricity generation and the creation of raw materials for chemical production, transportation fuel, hydrogen and substitute for natural gas.
Currently, China is taking up this technology quickly.

As one of the most famous petroleum and chemical companies, SHELL has financially sponsored this chair. At the same time, SHELL has provided directions and technical support based on its advanced technologies and successful experiences in the field of coal gasification in China.

Survey on Status of Applying Coal Chemical Gasification Technology in China’s Coal Chemical Industry
Center for Environmental Education and Communications; State Environmental Protection Administration
February, 2007.

(Gosh, China's "EPA", their "Environmental Protection Administration", seems to support Coal conversion, just, as seen in:

US EPA Recommends Coal Liquefaction as a Clean Alternative | Research & Development; concerning: "Clean Alternative Fuels: Fischer-Tropsch; United States Environmental Protection Agency; 2002; A Success Story (!) For the past 50 years, Fischer-Tropsch fuels have powered all of South Africa’s vehicles, from buses to trucks to taxicabs. The fuel is primarily supplied by Sasol, a world leader in Fischer-Tropsch technologies. Sasol’s South African facility produces more than 150,000 barrels of high quality fuel from domestic low-grade coal daily";

our very own US EPA seems to do.)

This survey covers the following aspects: the status of current application of the coal gasification technology in China, and the market data of the downstream products of coal gasification technology such as naphtha, diesel oil, Kerosene, Paraffin, crude oil.

The modern coal chemical industry can be divided into three industrialization levels. The first level is the synthesis gas from coal-coal water slurries or dry coal dusts were partially oxidized to the synthetic gas (CO+ H2), the gasification of coal water slurry in China has already been industrialized. The second level is the synthetic gas processing, which mainly includes three routes: synthesis of alcohol, hydrocarbon and other carbon oxidized compound. Alcohol synthesis includes synthesis of the methylalcohol, ethylalcohol and further synthesis of the glycol. The third level is a further processing which mostly processes the methylalcohol and the downstream products of the alkene. It is the pillar of the chemical industry.

In 2005, (China) produced 232,820,000 tons of coke, 8,950,000 tons of calcium carbide, 25,000,000 tons of coal system chemical fertilizer ..., about 3,500,000 tons of methylalcohol (methanol). All of these are on an advanced level worldwide.

(The above "calcium carbide", to remind you, is made from Coal and limestone; and, when combined with water, as in antique, open-flame Coal miners' cap lamps, generates the hydrocarbon gas, Acetylene, which is useful in welding and has other applications. Calcium carbide is still used for the purpose of generating Acetylene on-site in some of those applications where it's undesirable to have cylinders of the compressed gas itself lying about.)

In recent years, the coal chemical industry rapidly shows its advantages due to the sharp increase of the international oil price. Therefore, the coal chemical industry has been widely developed across China. After the reform of the investment system in July, 2004, investment projects do not need special permission from the government anymore. As a result, many coal chemical projects with different scales were initiated in coal mining area all over the country.

The government on one hand raises the requirement preventing small and medium enterprises from entering the market; on the other hand, it clearly shows encouragement to those large-scale enterprises, which are capable to apply coal gasification technology.

(The full discussion reveals that the Chinese government was, in fact, concerned about an overcapacity of Coal-derived fuels and chemicals being developed; and, has restricted further Coal conversion efforts to large, consolidated facilities controlled and approved of by the central government. They were, as we understand the analysis, worried that the market value of Coal-derived chemicals and fuels would be eroded due to unregulated overproduction. Thus, the restrictions.)

Chinese petrol demands highly depend on import. In regard of securing the energy resource, coal, as a substitute of petrol, used as a main raw material, will alleviate the stress on petrol.

Coal Gasification Technology has been used in China for nearly 100 years, but it lagged far behind. There are more than 10,000 coal gasification stoves functioning in china, among them fixed-bed gasifier was the most common one. For example, in ammonia-fertilizer industries, the number of UGI water-coal gasifier exceeds 4000 UGI; more than 5000 gasifiers including two phases gasifier and Lurgi gasifier are used for producing industrial fuel gas.

(Concerning the above "Lurgi gasifier", see, for instance:

Germany 98% Pure Carbon Monoxide from Coal, CO2 and O2 | Research & Development; concerning: "Carbon Monoxide from Coke, Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen; Hydrocarbon Process(US); 1986; Lurgi GmbH, Frankfurt (Germany); Abstract: Many valuable organic chemicals-both as intermediate or final products-can be made from high purity carbon monoxide (CO). Mainly, this includes: Diisocyanates; Polyurethane; Fatty acid derivatives; Acrylic glass. In order to provide a source of inexpensive CO for the above syntheses, a very attractive new scheme has been developed. This is very competitive indeed when compared to processes using natural gas or oil as feedstock. The scheme is well suited for (plants with low capacities) though much higher capacities can easily be accommodated. According to this concept merely two process steps are required to convert coke to high purity CO. The purpose of the first process step is to gasify coke using a mixture of CO2 and O2 as gasification agent while the second one serves to remove sulfur compounds and residual CO2. Both processes are commercially proven. Depending on the quality of the feedstocks the produced gas shows a CO concentration of 97 to 98.5% by volume. This CO level makes for an excellent feedstock for most syntheses.")

In the last 40 years, supported by the government, China achieved great progress in research and developing CGT. Some outstanding examples marked milestone in the field of coal chemical industry: The first one is the research of imitated K-T gasification technology. The technology was tested in middle scale between mid 1960s to late 1970s in Xinjiang Lucaogou and Shandong Huangxian, which provided ample experience for developing Texaco coal water gasification technology.

(Regarding the "Texaco coal water gasification technology", see, for just two examples, our reports of:

Texaco 1953 CO2-Free Coal Syngas | Research & Development; concerning: "United States Patent 2,655,443 - Synthesis Gas Generation; 1953; Assignee: The Texas Company (Texaco), NY; This invention relates to a process and apparatus for the generation of gases comprising carbon monoxide from carbonaceous materials. In one of its more specific aspects it relates to a process and apparatus for the generation of a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, suitable as a feed for the synthesis of hydrocarbons, from powdered coal. (An) object is to provide a process particularly suited to the generation of a feed gas for the synthesis of hydrocarbons from coal. Claims: (A) process for the production of a gaseous mixture comprising hydrogen and carbon monoxide from a solid carbonaceous fuel by reaction with steam and oxygen"; and:

Texaco Coal + Water = Hydrocarbon Syngas | Research & Development; concerning: "United States Patent 2,946,670 - Manufacture of Synthesis Gas; 1960; Assignee: Texaco Development Corporation, NYC; This invention relates to a method for the gasification of solid carbonaceous fuels. In one of its more specific aspects it relates to the manufacture of synthesis gas from solid carbonaceous fuels. The process of the present invention is especially useful in connection with the generation of carbon monoxide and hydrogen from solid carbonaceous fuels by partial oxidation. Coke, coal of various grades, for example, lignite, bituminous and anthracite coals ... are suitable as fuels for the process. The mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen produced by this process may be used as a source of feed gas for the synthesis of alcohol, or hydrocarbons".

Concerning the "K-T", i.e., Koppers-Totzek, "gasification technology", see, for one example, our report of:

Pittsburgh 1942 Coal Gasification Utilizes CO2 | Research & Development; concerning: "United States Patent 2,302,156 - Process and Apparatus for the Production of Useful Fuel Gas; 1942; Inventor: Friedrich Totzek, Germany; Assignee: Koppers Company, Pittsburgh, PA; Abstract: This invention relates to the production of fuel gas or high heating power out ...granular fuels, such as ... coal, ...  the fuel being converted at a high temperature with air (oxygen), steam and carbon dioxide whereby a gas is produced which is rich in hydrogen and carbon monoxide. A process for producing fuel gas of high calorific value from ... black or brown coal (by reacting) the solid fuel with CO2 ... and completing the conversion by treating the same with steam ... to produce a gas rich in hydrogen and carbon monoxide."

As far as the "UGI water-coal gasifier" goes, there are a number of Coal gasifiers available in the world today, most of them falling into the varieties known as "fixed" or "moving", bed, and "entrained" or "turbulent", flow gasifiers. Without linking to references, the specified "UGI" gasifier is of the "moving bed" variety.)

Texaco coal-water slurry CGT: The technology was invented by American Texaco Corp (bought by GE.).

(See, for more information on the above statement:

GE Converts China Coal to Methanol | Research & Development; concerning: "One of the World’s Largest Coal-to-Olefins Gasification Units Starts Up in China; BEIJING, CHINA—August 12, 2010—The gasification unit at one of the world’s largest coal-to-olefins projects successfully started up at the China Shenhua Coal to Liquid and Chemical Co. Ltd.’s project in Baotou, Inner Mongolia (Shenhua Baotou Coal to Olefins project). The gasification unit uses advanced coal gasification technology provided by GE (NYSE:GE).

Gasification technology is critical for the expansion of the Chinese economy, allowing a wide variety of industrial products and fuels to be created from low-cost and abundant coal resources. GE’s gasification technology is one of the most widely applied technologies of its kind in China, with more than 40 licensed facilities. As gasification projects in China get larger and more complex, advanced technologies such as GE’s larger scale quench gasifier and higher pressure gasification technology will have a significant role in reducing overall project cost".)

In 1984, Shandong Lunan fertilizer factory introduced Texaco CGT, and built the first set of Texaco coal-water slurry equipment in China, it was put into production in 1993.Then Shanghai Coke Plant, Shanxi Weihe coal chemical group, Anhui Huainan Chemical Plant, Haolianghe fertilizer factory and Sinopec Jinling Petrochemical Corporation all introduced Texaco technology successively. This technology has been used in china for many years, with ample experience and mature technology.

Shell dry coal dust gasification technology: This technology was invented by Shell. Now there have been 15 projects in China that are under construction or will be constructed, one of them is situated in Hubei shuanghuan that was put into production in 2006. As an environmentally friendly technology, Shell technology could adapt to a variety of coal, with high efficiency.

(See, for just one example of "Shell ... gasification technology", our report of:

Shell Oil Coal + CO2 + H2O = Hydrocarbon Syngas | Research & Development; concerning: "United States Patent 7,829,601 - Partial Oxidation Process of a Solid Carbonaceous Feed; 2010; Assignee: Shell Oil Company, Texas; Abstract: The invention is directed to a process for preparing a mixture comprising CO and H2 by operating a partial oxidation process of a solid carbonaceous feed, which process comprises the steps of: (Supplying) the solid carbonaceous feed and an oxygen-containing stream to a burner, wherein a CO2 containing transport gas is used to transport the solid carbonaceous feed to the burner; (And) partially oxidizing the carbonaceous feed in the burner wherein a gaseous stream comprising CO and H2 is being discharged from said burner into a reaction zone. (And) wherein the solid carbonaceous feed is coal. A process ... wherein the CO2 poor stream as obtained in step (e) is further purified and subjected to a methanol synthesis reaction to obtain methanol; to a dimethyl ether synthesis reaction to obtain dimethyl ether; or to a Fischer-Tropsch reaction to obtain various hydrocabons".)

Future energy GSP dry coal dust gasification technology. This technology was initially invented by Democratic Germany, now it belongs to Germany Future Energy company GmbHF. There are 5 projects in China with this technology under construction.

In Regard to Energy Security, Coal Gasification is the Inevitable Choice for China: Abundant coal ... is the fundamental natural resource reality of our country.

(And, that is "the fundamental natural resource reality" of some other folks' nations and states, as well, we might add. A lot of folks have just been blinded to, or refuse to accept, the fact.)

China's coal chemical industries could bring the advantages of abundant coal resources into play, make up for the insufficiency of domestic oil and gas resources, satisfy the demand for chemical products, impel the development of coal chemical industry with pure electric power, safeguard energy security, and facilitate the economic sustainable development.

In Shanxi Province, Tunliu coal mine  ... will build up a coal-derived oil demonstration plant whose annual production is 160,000 tons, and if the experiment makes good winning, a coal-derived oil plant with annual output of 5.2 million tons will be built up.

Not only that, Shanxi Province has listed coal liquefaction into its development plan and it planned to build up a super large enterprise group with the core of million-ton-class coal-synthesized oil within 5 to 10 years.

In Shandong Province, the biggest coal producing enterprise, Yankuang Group has invested 10 billion Yuan to develop and construct million-ton-class coal liquefaction (and,) simultaneously this group also signed agreements with Shanxi Province to invest 9,526 million Yuan in Shannxi to comprehensively develop
liquefied-coal oil.

As is mentioned in the news from Shandong Provincial Coal office ... Shandong’s top seven coal groups, including Feicheng Mining Industry Group, have already been constructed or are planning to construct coal-derived oil bases. This is merely the known part of current coal liquefaction oil projects. In fact, since the beginning of this year, almost in every place where coal production is going to scale, the government and enterprises are planning to start “coal liquefaction oil” projects, most of which have already submitted feasibility study reports or pre-feasibility study reports.

(As estimated) by Beijing Research Institute of Coal Chemistry some time earlier, by 2020 the total amount of coal-derived oil of our country could reach 36 million tons to 39 million tons, and can provide about 13% of domestic transportation fuel at the time. But according to the present rapid developing speed, the production will be far beyond the estimation.

The indirect liquefaction of coal is a process to gasify coal into synthesis gas, and to synthesize oil and chemicals from the synthesis gas under the action of catalyst. As early as in the second decade of the last century, Germany has begun the research on the indirect liquefaction technology of coal. In 1936 they in the first place built an industrial scale factory for oil synthesis. Until 1955, there had been 18 oil synthesis factories in the world, whose total oil producing ability reached 100 million tons/year. Up to date, the typical commercial technology of the indirect liquefaction of coal outside China is the F-T synthesis technology of SASOL Company in South Africa. The main products are up to 113 kinds including gasoline, diesel oil, wax, burning gas, ammonia, ethylene, propylene, polymer, alcohol, aldehyde, ketone, etc. Beside the F-T synthesis technology of the SASOL Company in South Africa, there are other commercialized technology for indirect liquefaction, such as the SMDS technology of Shell Company, Netherland (the factory is built in Malaysia), the MTG synthesis technology of Mobil Company (the factory is built in New Zealand). There are also some advanced but not yet commercialized synthesis technology including the Tigas technology of Topsoe Company, Denmark, the STG technology of Mobil Company, U.S.A.

(See, for one example of the "Mobil Company" "STG", i.e., Syngas to Gasoline, "technology":

Mobil Oil 1978 Coal Conversion with Zeolite Catalyst | Research & Development; concerning: "United States Patent 4,086,262 - Conversion of Synthesis Gas to Hydrocarbon Mixtures; 1978; Assignee: Mobil Oil Corporation, NY; Abstract: Contacting a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen with an intimate mixture of a carbon monoxide reduction catalyst, such as a Fischer-Tropsch catalyst or a methanol synthesis catalyst, and an acidic crystalline aluminosilicate having a pore dimension greater than about 5 Angstroms to produce hydrocarbon mixtures useful in the manufacture of ... high octane gasoline".)

The persistent increase of international oil price and the shortage of oil resources in china has long been the bottle neck of its economic growth, therefore to seek new source of Olefin products is crucial for the development of China. China has abundant coal resources. The reserve volume is over 1,000 billion tons,
which is the basis for coal-based chemical industries. With the development of modern coal chemical technologies, it is easier to make ethane and propylene through coal-based methanol; In addition, its relatively low price campared to the price of oil ensures this technology ensured the profit of coal gasfication technology.

(Regarding "Olefin products", and what they might be, see:

Olefins | Petrochemicals Production | Refinery Petrochemicals | Olefins Production | Olefins Process | KBR: A Global Engineeri; wherein we're told, that:

"Olefins are in a class of hydrocarbons with a single double bond and a chemical formula of CnH2n. The two most important olefins are ethylene and propylene, as they form the backbone of the petrochemicals market. The highly reactive double bond makes the olefin molecule ideal for conversion to many useful end products. The majority of olefins capacity is consumed in the production of polymers used for plastics (i.e. polyethylene and polypropylene). Ethylene dichloride, ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, oxo alcohol, polystyrene, and acrylonitrile are other important olefins-based petrochemicals.")

China resumed its research on the indirect liquefaction of coal group in 1980s; after that, the Institute of Coal Chemistry, Shanxi has exploited MFT and SMFT technology and has successively accomplished the initial experiment, the model experiment, the middle experiment, and the industrial experiment of the MFT technology, and the model experiment of the SMFT technology. In addition, they also conducted the longterm operation experiment on two synthesized catalysts. The researches mentioned above came out with satisfying results. Nowadays, the main existing problems of domestic technology are about how to quickly form its intellectual property rights, and how to expand the synthesis equipment in order to adapt itself to the pace of industrialization.

Down-stream coal-to-oil products consist of diesel oil, kerosene, naphtha, paraffin and so on. We consulted and analyzed China’s import and export data of crude oil and down-stream coal-to-oil products from 2001 to 2005. China is the second largest oil consumption country. With the rapid development of national economy since 1990s, the demand for oil and gas has been continually increasing, therefore, the contradiction between supply and demand is distinctive. Since 1993, China has changed from a net oil exporter to a net importer. In 2000, China’s net oil import amount broke through 70 million tons. In 2004, it broke through the limit of 100 million tons, reaching 143.65 million tons, with the degree of dependence on oil of 45.2%. In 2005 the amount slightly reduced to 136.176 million tons, with the degree of dependence of 43.9%. Admitting the fact that the oil demand will rapidly increase in the future and the fact that domestic resource is very limited,
we can foresee that domestic output cannot satisfy the demand at all, and therefore China’s degree of dependence on oil will increase yearly."

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First, should you take the time to study the full report, note that translation from the original Chinese can lead to some confusion.

For instance, in several places they refer to the cost of petroleum in dollars "per bucket", when, clearly, they mean dollars "per barrel".

Also, they speak in several places about their oil "exportation" in relation to their domestic usage and their oil imports, when, in essence, they don't export any oil. That stopped in 1993, when they ended oil exports to Japan, and maybe a few other of their neighbors, from whom they were attempting to earn foreign exchange credits and, presumably, good will.

They had maintained those specific oil exports for a time even after they became a net oil importer.

That information comes from separate, though readily accessible, web-based sources which we won't cite, or link to, herein.

Our take on it is that, in places, when they refer to their oil "exportation", they actually mean just their own domestic production; another artifact of difficult Chinese-to-English translation.

Through an extended, and rather dense, presentation of data, they obliquely and discreetly, as we perceive to be the Chinese cultural way, make the case that China's already extensive current, and solidly planned future, Coal conversion industry actually needs to be aggressively expanded, if they wish to preserve the growth in their economy.

Further, there were, as we once documented, some public news reports being floated a few years ago that China was putting the brakes on, or drastically slowing, their otherwise aggressive Coal liquefaction and Coal conversion industrialization plans.

What we concluded from other reports related to the issue, and as seems authoritatively confirmed herein, is that what actually happened is that China's central government consolidated their control over the burgeoning Coal conversion industry; and, put a stop to smaller, independent Coal liquefaction projects. They want the industry to develop and grow in a planned and coordinated way to maximize the economic benefits for the nation of China as a whole.

It's just too bad that our own United States Government, commanding, as they are, a significantly larger reserve of Coal than is the government of China; and, who are faced with same problems of loss of foreign exchange and growing national indebtedness due to the importation of foreign petroleum, don't have the same pragmatic will, and wisdom, as the Chinese government to better the situation, and to improve the economic outlook of her people, by turning to the now-glaringly obvious solution: Coal.