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AU Research Using Waste Plastics, Coal to Produce Usable Fuels


Should the link not open, you can either search, or contact:

Mitch Emmons (emmonmb@mail.auburn.edu)

Who authored:


A brief excerpt:

"AUBURN -- Auburn University researchers are working on ways to convert waste plastics and coal into viable fuels -- a technology that once perfected will reduce the amount of plastics buried in landfills and cut U.S. dependency on foreign oil.

Through the Consortium for Fossil Fuel Liquefaction Science -- comprised of AU, West Virginia University and the universities of Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Utah -- work is underway to combine coal and other fossil fuels such as waste oil with plastics, tire rubber and paper materials to produce fuel oils and transportation fuels..."

We earlier informed you of the Consortium, and it's members.


PITT Chronicle: Gifts & Grants: From Coal to Clean Fuel - An Emerging Reality

By Carrie Peterson
"Whether it’s a car powered by garbage in the film Back to the Future (Universal Studios, 1985) or the solar-powered and electric “hybrids” occasionally seen on urban streets, Americans have been working for decades to find a practical, clean alternative to gasoline-powered automobiles. Now, with the University of Pittsburgh’s research of C1 chemistry—the conversion of single, carbon-bearing molecules (derived from coal and natural gas) into more valuable products like clean-burning transportation fuels—a solution to some of America’s fuel worries may be found in our own backyard.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a three-year, $5.7 million research contract to the Consortium for Fossil Fuel Science (CFFS), a group of researchers at five universities: Pitt, the University of Kentucky, West Virginia University, the University of Utah, and Auburn University. Each CFFS-member school will study a different aspect of C1 chemistry.

The University of Pittsburgh received $257,000 to study and improve the Fischer-Tropsch process, which heats coal and turns it into a cleaner, more efficient fuel.

“To gasify coal into synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, is a known technology,” said Irving Wender, a Pitt Distinguished University Research Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and one of the researchers working on C1 chemistry. “The researchers at Pitt want to gain a better understanding of the pathways involved in converting synthesis gas to liquid fuels.” "


We suppose you could attempt contacting Ms. Peterson, or Dr. Wender. However, this article was published in April, 2003.

In my (Joe's) career as a geo-technical engineer/ground control specialist, I've been in some deep, deep mines - but, especially given our current "oil crisis", I've never seen coal buried as deep as it seems to be when it comes to the issue of coal conversion. What, do you speculate, could be the reason CTL science hasn't been front page material - especially in our primary coal-producing states - i.e., WV?

Note, especially, the article's full title: "From Coal to Clean Fuel - ....Reality"

Well, the full title includes the word "Emerging". But, that was in 2003. The chick should have it's head out of the shell by now, don't you think? That, especially since it started really hatching, in Germany, a little over 60 years ago.

The Germans were doing it for their war effort, to fuel their military machines. We've told you about our own, US Air Force's efforts in that regard. The Army's into it, as well:

"The U.S. Army is interested in the clean-coal fuel because it can be adjusted for use in different vehicles. About 50 percent of the weight the Army carries overseas is fuel, because a different fuel is needed for tanks, planes, and trucks,” said Wender. “Since the new fuel burns more efficiently, the Army would need to transport less of it.”

What they're saying is that the Army's into this, as well as the Air Force, and, as we earlier suggested, coal-derived, Fischer-Tropsch fuel is better than petroleum-based diesel or gasoline.

The University of Pittsburgh, Mike. We ain't gonna let the Panthers beat our Mounties again, are we?


DOE: Pittsburgh Technology Center


The attached DOE report, Number DOE/PC79816-4, was published in the late Eighties and reveals that, even then, detailed research was being conducted on improved Fischer-Tropsch catalysts for the conversion of coal into liquid fuels.
It relates work done by/for the DOE's own Pittsburgh Energy Technology Laboratory. And, it is quite specific; focused on seeming minutiae of comparative catalyst performance in the process.
In other words, they weren't trying to make the process work, they were making it work better. And, since SASOL, who is mentioned in the body, seem to have had it pretty well in hand for many decades now, and we've made it even better, it makes one wonder, does it not, why the heck we're not just doing it.

Indirect Coal Liquefaction Environment Reports - 1985 to 1986

Performed by TRW for our DOE. The format won't allow us to extract exerts.
All of this research is generating more questions than answers, is it not?
In the early eighties, we were already performing environmental impact statements for coal-to-oil conversion plants.
Please, deign to confirm that you are receiving, and are able to access the links.

Pittsburgh 1993 Conference Proceedings

Our old in-house elephant's getting a little hot under that lampshade. When are you going to yank it off?



Coal Liquefaction and Gas Conversion: Proceedings. Volume 2 - 1993

Pittsburgh Energy Technology Center

Table of Contents

Heterogeneous Catalystic Process For Alcohol Fuels From Syngas
  Minahan, D. M.; Nagaki, D. A.; Culp, G.; and Duty, N.
      Union Carbide Chemicals and Plastics Co, Inc.
The Economical Production of Alcohol Fuels From Coal-Derived Synthesis Gas
  Whiting, W. B.; Shaeiwitz, J. A.; Turton, R.; Torries, T. F.; Saymansky, J. E.;
    Maier, R.W.; Tandon, M.; Gautam, M.; Bata, R. M.; Haught, B. A.; and Dodd,
    J. L.
      West Virginia University
  Duty, N. M.; Culp, G. L.; Bannister, R. R.; and Vredeveld, D. R.
      Union Carbide Technical Center
Isobutanol Dehydration: A Key Step in Producing MTBE From Syngas
  Armstrong, P. A.; Bhatt, B.; Heydorn, E. C.; and Toseland, B. A.
      Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
High Octane Ethers From Synthesis Gas-Derived Alcohols
  Klier, K.; Herman, R. G.; Feeley, O. C.; Johansson, M. A.; and Menszak, J.
      Lehigh University
Progress on Developing Technology For Producing Higher Alcohols From Synthesis Gas
  Roberts, G. W.; McCutchen, M. S.; Shertukde, P. V.; Peeler, C. M.; and Lamb,
    H. H.
      North Carolina State University
Development of Alternative Fuels and Chemicals From Synthesis Gas
  Brown, D. M.
      Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
Catalysts and Process Development For Synthesis Gas Conversion to Isobutylene
  Anthony, R. G.; Akgerman, A.; Postula, W. S.; Feng, Z.; Philip, C. V.; and Erkey,
      Texas A&M University
Technology Development For Cobalt Fischer-Tropsch Catalyst
  Singleton, A. H.
      Energy International Corporation
Fischer-Tropsch Co/Ru Catalyst Development
  Frame, R. R.; and Gala, H. B.
Technology Development For Iron Fischer-Tropsch Catalysts
  Tungate, F. L.
      United Catalysts, Inc.
  Xu, L.; Spicer, R. L.; Houpt, D. J.; O'Brien, R.; Lin, R.; Milburn, D. R.;
    Chokkaram, S.; Chary, K.; and Davis, B. H.
      University of Kentucky/CAER
Fischer-Tropsch Iron Catalyst Development
  Frame, R. R.; and Gala, H. B.
Pretreatment Effect and Process Evaluation Studies of Precipitated Iron Fischer-Tropsch Catalysts
  Bukur, D. B.; Lang, X.; Nowicki, L.; and Koranne, M.
      Texas A&M University
Mössbauer Spectroscopy Study of Iron-Based Catalysts Used in Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis
  Davis, B; O'Brien, R. J.; and Xu, L.
      CAER, University of Kentucky
  Bukur, D. B.
      Texas A&M University
  Rao, K. R. P. M.; Huffman, G. P.; Huggins, F. E.; and Mahajan, V.
      CFFLS, University of Kentucky
The Selective Catalytic Cracking of Fischer-Tropsch Liquids to High Value Transportation Fuels
  Reagan, W. J.
      Amoco Oil Company
The Standing of Fischer-Tropsch Diesel in an Assay of Fuel Performance and Emissions
  Erwin, J.; and Ryan, III, T. W.
      Southwest Research Institute
Baseline Design/Economics For Advanced Fischer-Tropsch Technology
  Choi, G. N.; and Tam. S. S.
      Bechtel Corporation
  Fox, III, J. M.
  Kramer, S. J.
      Amoco Oil Company
  Marano, J. J.
      Burns and Roe Services Corporation
Opportunities For Reducing Product Costs in Indirect Liquefaction
  Gray, D.; Tomlinson, G.; and ElSawy, A.
       The MITRE Corporation
Fischer-Tropsch Slurry Reactor Modeling
  Soong, Y.; Boff, J. J.; Harke, F. E.; Blackwell, A. G.; and Zarochak, M. F.
      Pittsburgh Energy Technology Center