United States Patent: 8741000

The document we submit herein is just further testament to the fact, that, totally unknown to the vast majority of United States citizens, the technology is being developed, even in some perhaps surprising quarters, that will - - or that would if the public, especially that Coal Country public, were ever to be deemed worthy to be told about it all by one or another of their various information media outlets, and then empowered by their United States Government to utilize it - - enable the United States of America to achieve a sustainable independence in her supply of liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

As is now irrefutable - - as is now so plain that to avoid public discussion of it and it's potentials seems to us to border on treasonous disregard for the strategic and economic security of the United States of America and her citizens - - Coal can, cleanly and efficiently, be converted into any and all liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon fuels.

 

Coal can serve as the source material from which we can synthesize anything and everything we now squander our national treasure and put our grandchildren's future security and prosperity at risk to continue buying - - much of it on credit, by the way - - from those beacons of freedom and democratic ideals, the nations of OPEC.

And, as West Virginia University reported to the United States Department of Energy, as seen in:

WVU Says Oil From Coal Could Sustain Us For 1,000 Years | Research & Development | News; concerning: "Development of Continuous Solvent Extraction Processes For Coal Derived Carbon Products; 2009; Research Organization: West Virginia University; Sponsoring Organization: US Department of Energy; Contract Number: FC26-03NT41873";

it would be perfectly feasible to - - using one already-known technology or another - - convert some of our abundant Coal into synthetic petroleum and petroleum-based products, and, to thereby "eliminate the 12 million barrels per day of liquid crude that" the United States "currently imports". 

Moreover, WVU confirmed that we have enough Coal in the United States of America to be self-sufficient in our supply of liquid hydrocarbons for well more than the next 1,000 years.

There are multiple technological paths for the conversion Coal into hydrocarbons. West Virginia University has focused on direct liquefaction processes wherein a solvent, usually specified to be derived from the Coal liquefaction process itself, is used to dissolve the Carbon and make it available for further chemical processing. 

The other major technical pathway for converting Coal into hydrocarbons is the "indirect" method, typified by the now nearly-ancient Fischer-Tropsch process, wherein Coal is first "gasified", through a process of partial oxidation, or partial combustion, and transformed into a gaseous blend of, primarily, Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen, known as "synthesis gas", or just "syngas", and which syngas is then passed over or through a bed of any of a number of catalysts known to be effective, and thereby chemically condensed into gaseous and/or liquid hydrocarbons.

A graphical explanation of Fischer-Tropsch, indirect-type Coal gasification and conversion processes is made available on the web by Purdue University, in their 2007 "Coal-To-Liquids (CTL) & Fischer-Tropsch Processing (FT)":

http://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/energy/assets/pdfs/cctr/outreach/Basics1-CoalGasification-Jun07.pdf  

Almost any Carbon-containing compound can, like Coal, be gasified and converted into a blend of Hydrogen, Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide, which gases together can be converted via processes like the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis into hydrocarbons. And, numerous technologies have been developed for so utilizing various renewable organic products, in addition to Coal, such as purpose-grown crops and food crop wastes, that is, generally speaking, "Biomass".

Currently, though, as is broadly recognized, Coal is the only Carbon resource currently available in the amounts and volumes needed to make an industry focused on manufacturing synthetic hydrocarbons a practical, viable concept. And, a great deal of developmental effort has been focused on combining Coal with renewable Biomass in hydrocarbon synthesis processes, wherein the Biomass provides some elements of sustainability and Carbon recycling, and, even, productive waste utilization.

One center of such development has been the University of California, primarily in the person of their  Professor Joseph Norbeck, who's work we've cited in a number of reports, such as:

California Synfuels from Coal and Carbon-Recycling Wastes | Research & Development | News; concerning: "US Patent 7,208,530 - Production of Synthetic Transportation Fuels (via) Self-Sustained Hydro-Gasification; 2007; Inventors: Joseph Norbeck, et. al.; Assignee: The Regents of the University of California; Abstract: A process and apparatus for producing a synthesis gas for use as a gaseous fuel or as feed into a Fischer-Tropsch reactor to produce a liquid fuel in a substantially self-sustaining process. A slurry of particles of carbonaceous material in water, and hydrogen from an internal source, are fed into a hydro-gasification reactor under conditions whereby methane rich producer gases are generated and fed into a steam pyrolytic reformer under conditions whereby synthesis gas comprising hydrogen and carbon monoxide are generated (i.e.,) a synthesis gas for use as a ... feed into Fischer-Tropsch reactor to produce a liquid fuel, the improvement comprising: forming a liquid suspension slurry of particles of carbonaceous material in water; feeding said suspension slurry and hydrogen from an internal source into a hydro-gasification reactor ... . The process ... in which said liquid slurry of carbonaceous material is formed by grinding said carbonaceous material in water. The process ... in which said carbonaceous material comprises biomass (and) in which said biomass comprises municipal solid waste. (The )system that can accept arbitrary combinations of coal, urban and agricultural biomass, and municipal solid waste for hydro-gasification. A substantially self-sustaining process for producing a liquid fuel from carbonaceous feed"; and:

California 2012 Coal and Carbon-Recycling Waste to Syngas | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 8,143,319 - Steam Hydro-Gasification with Increased Conversion Times; 2012; Inventors: Chan Seung Park and Joseph Norbeck; Assignee: The Regents of the University of California; Abstract: A method and apparatus for converting carbonaceous material to a stream of carbon rich gas, comprising heating a slurry feed containing the carbonaceous material in a hydrogasification process using hydrogen and steam, at a temperature and pressure sufficient to generate a methane and carbon monoxide rich stream ... . In particular embodiments, the slurry feed containing the carbonaceous material is fed, along with hydrogen, to a kiln type reactor before being fed to the fluidized bed reactor. ... Optionally, a grinder can be provided in the kiln type reactor. The process ... wherein the carbonaceous material is solid. The process ... including the step of subjecting the stream of methane and carbon monoxide rich gas to steam methane reforming under conditions whereby synthesis gas comprising hydrogen and carbon monoxide is generated. The process ... in which synthesis gas ... is fed into a Fischer-Tropsch-type reactor under conditions whereby a liquid fuel is produced. Background and Field: The field of the invention is the synthesis of transportation fuel from carbonaceous feed stocks".

The University of California's development of technologies for "The Production of Synthetic Transportation Fuels" via an initial "Hydro-Gasification" of "carbonaceous feed stocks", has even extended, as seen in:

California Blends Coal with Biomass for Gasification | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 8,118,894 - Commingled Coal and Biomass Slurries; 2012; Inventors: Joseph Norbeck, et. al., CA; Assignee: The Regents of the University of California; Abstract: An energy efficient process for converting biomass into a higher carbon content, high energy density slurry. Water and biomass are mixed at a temperature and under a pressure that are much lower than in prior processes, but under a non-oxidative gas, which enables a stable slurry to be obtained containing up to 60% solids by weight, 20-40% carbon by weight, in the slurry. The temperature is nominally about 200 C under non-oxidative gas pressure of about 150 psi, conditions that are substantially less stringent than those required by the prior art. In another embodiment, the biomass water slurry can be mixed with a coal water slurry to further optimize the carbon content and pumpability of the biomass slurry. A process for converting biomass into a higher carbon content, high energy density slurry, comprising: providing ground coal and a pretreated biomass slurry; and forming from the ground coal and the pretreated biomass slurry a coal-biomass slurry ... . A process for converting biomass into a higher carbon content, high energy density slurry, comprising providing a mixture of biomass and water containing 50% solids, and heating the mixture to a temperature of about 200 C under a non-oxidative gas ... to obtain a stable slurry ...that allows formation of a commingled coal-biomass slurry having a viscosity (as specified)In a process of hydrogasification of a biomass slurry ... the improvement comprising: converting the biomass slurry into a higher carbon content, high energy density slurry by pre-treating the biomass slurry to form a pretreated biomass slurry, and by combining the pretreated biomass slurry with, an amount of a coal slurry to thereby form a coal-biomass slurry ... . ... The field of the invention is the synthesis of transportation fuel from carbonaceous feed stocks";

to establishing the means and methods whereby a starting mix of Coal and Biomass can be prepared, and made ready for the "Hydro-Gasification" process.

And, herein we see that they have continued to improve those technologies for combining Coal and Biomass, and making them even more amenable for conversion, first, through "Hydro-Gasification", into a hydrocarbon synthesis gas for, second, as our subject herein puts it, "the synthesis of transportation fuel from carbonaceous feed stocks".

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

"United States Patent 8,741,000 - Commingled Coal and Biomass Slurries

Commingled coal and biomass slurries - The Regents of the University of California

Date: June 3, 2014

Inventors: Joseph Norbeck, et. al., CA

Assignee: The Regents of the University of California, Oakland

Abstract: An energy efficient process for converting biomass into a higher carbon content, high energy density slurry. Water and biomass are mixed at a temperature and under a pressure that are much lower than in prior processes, but under a non-oxidative gas, which enables a stable slurry to be obtained containing up to 60% solids by weight, 20-40% carbon by weight, in the slurry. The temperature is nominally about 200 C under non-oxidative gas pressure of about 150 psi, conditions that are substantially less stringent than those required by the prior art.

In another embodiment, the biomass water slurry can be mixed with a coal water slurry to further optimize the carbon content and pumpability of the biomass slurry.

Claims: A high energy density slurry, comprising ground coal and a pretreated biomass slurry having a viscosity (as specified) and having a solid loading of at least 40 weight %. 

The high energy density slurry ... wherein the pretreated biomass slurry is formed from a biomass slurry by heating the biomass slurry under a non-oxidative gas such that the heating allows use of at least 35% treated biomass in the coal-biomass slurry while maintaining the viscosity (and) wherein the biomass slurry is formed from wood or plant material and water. 

The high energy density slurry ... wherein the high energy density slurry has a water: carbon ratio of approximately 2:1 (to) approximately 3:1.

Background and Field: The field of the invention is the synthesis of transportation fuel from carbonaceous feed stocks. 

There is a need to identify new sources of chemical energy and methods for its conversion into alternative transportation fuels, driven by many concerns including environmental, health, safety issues, and the inevitable future scarcity of petroleum-based fuel supplies.

Since the resources for the production of petroleum-based fuels are being depleted, dependency on petroleum will become a major problem unless non-petroleum alternative fuels, in particular clean-burning synthetic diesel fuels, are developed. Moreover, normal combustion of petroleum-based fuels in conventional engines can cause serious environmental pollution unless strict methods of exhaust emission control are used. A clean burning synthetic diesel fuel can help reduce the emissions from diesel engines. 

Liquid transportation fuels have inherent advantages over gaseous fuels, having higher energy densities than gaseous fuels at the same pressure and temperature.

Liquid fuels can be stored at atmospheric or low pressures whereas to achieve liquid fuel energy densities, a gaseous fuel would have to be stored in a tank on a vehicle at high pressures that can be a safety concern in the case of leaks or sudden rupture.

The distribution of liquid fuels is much easier than gaseous fuels, using simple pumps and pipelines.

The liquid fueling infrastructure of the existing transportation sector ensures easy integration into the existing market of any production of clean-burning synthetic liquid transportation fuels. 

(Fans of shale gas take note of the above.)

The availability of clean-burning liquid transportation fuels is a national priority.

Producing synthesis gas (which is a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide) cleanly and efficiently from carbonaceous sources, that can be subjected to a Fischer-Tropsch type process to produce clean and valuable synthetic gasoline and diesel fuels, will benefit both the transportation sector and the health of society.

A Fischer-Tropsch type process or reactor, which is defined herein to include respectively a Fischer-Tropsch process or reactor, is any process or reactor that uses synthesis gas to produce a liquid fuel. Similarly, a Fischer-Tropsch type liquid fuel is a fuel produced by such a process or reactor. A Fischer-Tropsch type process allows for the application of current state-of-art engine exhaust after-treatment methods for NOx reduction, removal of toxic particulates present in diesel engine exhaust, and the reduction of normal combustion product pollutants, currently accomplished by catalysts that are poisoned quickly by any sulfur present, as is the case in ordinary stocks of petroleum derived diesel fuel, reducing the catalyst efficiency. Typically, Fischer-Tropsch type liquid fuels, produced from biomass derived synthesis gas, are sulfur-free, aromatic free, and in the case of synthetic diesel fuel have an ultrahigh cetane value. 

Biomass material is the most commonly processed carbonaceous waste feed stock used to produce renewable fuels. Biomass feed stocks can be converted to produce electricity, heat, valuable chemicals or fuels.

Using fuels from renewable biomass sources can actually decrease the net accumulation of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, while providing clean, efficient energy for transportation. One of the principal benefits of co-production of synthetic liquid fuels from biomass sources is that it can provide a storable transportation fuel while reducing the effects of greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. In the future, these co-production processes could provide clean-burning fuels for a renewable fuel economy that could be sustained continuously. 

Of particular interest to the present invention are processes developed more recently in which a slurry of carbonaceous material is fed into a hydro-gasifier reactor. One such process was developed in our laboratories to produce synthesis gas in which a slurry of particles of carbonaceous material in water, and hydrogen from an internal source, are fed into a hydro-gasification reactor under conditions to generate rich producer gas. This is led along with steam into a steam pyrolytic reformer under conditions to generate synthesis gas. This process is described in detail in Norbeck et al. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/503,435 (published as US 2005/0256212), entitled: "Production Of Synthetic Transportation Fuels From Carbonaceous Material Using Self-Sustained Hydro-Gasification."

(The above has, we believe, graduated into "US Patent 7,208,530 - Production of Synthetic Transportation Fuels (via) Self-Sustained Hydro-Gasification", as in our above-cited report concerning it.) 

All of these processes require the formation of a slurry of biomass that can be fed to the hydro-gasification reactor. To enhance the efficiency of the chemical conversions taking place in these processes, it is desirable to have a low water to carbon ratio, therefore a high energy density, slurry, which also makes the slurry more pumpable.

High solids content coal/water slurries have successfully been used in coal gasifiers in the feeding systems of pressurized reactors. A significant difference between coal/water slurries and biomass/water slurries is that coal slurries contain up to 70% solids by weight compared to about 20% solids by weight in biomass slurries.

Comparing carbon content, coal slurries contain up to about 50% carbon by weight compared to about 8-10% carbon by weight in biomass slurries. 

A number of processes have been developed to produce high carbon content slurries for use as the feedstock for a hydro-gasifier.

(Concerning the above, one of the specific "processes" cited herein as prior art is that seen in our report of:

Texaco Coal Conversion Recycles Carbon & Disposes of Waste | Research & Development | News; which concerns, in part:

"US Patent 4,983,296 - Partial Oxidation of Sewage Sludge; 1991; Assignee: Texaco Inc., NY; Abstract: Municipal sanitary sewage sludge is disposed of by an improved partial oxidation process without polluting the environment. Aqueous slurries of sewage sludge are upgraded by hydrothermal treatment, preferably while being sheared, concentrated, and then mixed with a supplemental fuel, preferably coal. A pumpable aqueous slurry of sewage sludge-coal ... is ... produced having a greater total solids and heat content (HHV) as well as containing an increased amount of sewage sludge for reacting with oxygen containing gas in a free-flow partial oxidation gas generator. Hot quench water or steam produced by cooling the hot raw effluent stream of synthesis gas, reducing gas or fuel gas from the gasifier may provide heat for the hydrothermal step. Claims: A process for the partial oxidation of sewage sludge (by) heating a concentrated aqueous slurry of sewage sludge obtained from sewage and ... mixing the pumpable aqueous slurry of sewage sludge produced ... with a supplemental solid fuel comprising particles of coal  (and) reacting said pumpable aqueous sewage sludge-coal (slurry) in the reaction zone of a partial oxidation gas generator at (specified conditions of temperature and pressure) in the presence of a free-oxygen containing gas, thereby producing a hot raw effluent stream of synthesis gas".)

Our previous work ... disclosed novel methods that enabled the production of a stable biomass slurry containing up to 60% solids by weight, so as to provide 20-40% carbon by weight in the slurry. However, it was not appreciated at that time the optimal conditions required for using such biomass slurries in hydrogasification processes, such as the optimum viscosity of the slurry to be delivered/pumped.

Summary: Provided is a steam hydrogasification process efficient for gasification of both coal and biomass feedstocks, either alone or commingled. The process can utilize water to provide an internal source of hydrogen and to control the synthesis gas ratio over a wide range.

(Note, as above, that the inclusion of "water" provides "an internal source of hydrogen"; and, no additional Hydrogen should need to be added to obtain a hydrocarbon "synthesis gas" with the needed or desired Carbon Monoxide-Hydrogen ratio for hydrocarbon synthesis.) 

This requires the formation of a slurry with a high carbon to water ratio, but with a viscosity to allow ease of handling during preparation, storage and transfer to the reactor. 

The present invention provides an energy efficient process for converting biomass into a higher carbon content, high energy density slurry. In particular, a coal water slurry is combined with a mixture of water and biomass (under conditions specified)."

------------------------------ 

It is, in sum, a way of preparing a blend of Coal and renewable Biomass, perhaps including otherwise very undesirable wastes, such as, as in Texaco's prior art: "United States Patent 4,983,296", "sewage sludge", so that the blend may be efficiently gasified, that is, converted into Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen, which "synthesis gas" can then "be subjected to a Fischer-Tropsch type process to produce clean and valuable synthetic gasoline and diesel fuels" which "will benefit both the transportation sector and the health of society".

And, you know, something else that would "benefit ... the health of society" is the free and open transmission of information to that society by the organs of public communication who present, who tout, themselves as existing for the sole purpose of providing information.

In closing, although the synthesis gas to be derived herein by the process of our subject, "United States Patent 8,741,000 - Commingled Coal and Biomass Slurries", from combined Coal and Biomass, is suggested by the University of California to be used in "a Fischer-Tropsch type process to produce clean and valuable synthetic gasoline and diesel fuels", there might be other, somewhat intriguing uses for such synthesis gas.

As seems to be suggested by researchers working for our United States Department of Defense, as seen in our report of:   

US Department of Defense 2014 Coal and Biomass to Petroleum | Research & Development | News; which concerns:

"United States Patent 8,679,368 - Synthetic Hydrocarbon Production by Direct Reduction of Carbonaceous Materials with Synthesis Gas; 2014; Assignee: Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio (TX); Abstract: A process for the liquefaction of carbonaceous material is described that utilizes a single liquefaction reactor that accepts mixtures of carbon monoxide and hydrogen (syngas) at any ratio and which provides for a water gas shift reaction and a hydrogenation reaction of the carbonaceous material to provide a desired hydrocarbon. The process avoids the use of a separate reactor for the water gas shift reaction and applies to carbonaceous material such as any type of coal and/or biomass containing plant and/or animal matter for conversion to a synthetic fuel. Government Interests: This invention was made with United States Government support under Contract No. HR0011-09-C-0094 awarded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The Government has certain rights in this invention";

it might be feasible to react such Coal and Biomass-derived hydrocarbon "syngas" with even more "coal and/or biomass", to effect what seems the direct "liquefaction" of that additional "carbonaceous material", through a "hydrogenation reaction"; and, to thereby "provide a desired hydrocarbon".

Now, if our interpretation and understanding of that is correct, by combining the processes of our subject herein, "United States Patent 8,741,000 - Commingled Coal and Biomass Slurries", and the other related University of California gasification technologies devised by Joe Norbeck and his colleagues there for making "synthesis gas" from Coal and Biomass, with the USDOD's process of "United States Patent 8,679,368 - Synthetic Hydrocarbon Production by Direct Reduction of Carbonaceous Materials with Synthesis Gas", for making hydrocarbon "synthetic fuel" directly, by reacting Coal and Biomass with "Synthesis Gas", which itself can be made from Coal and Biomass, we could put every Coal miner and every farmer in the state of West Virginia, and in all the rest of US Coal Country, and a bunch of waste haulers and chemical plant operators, to work; and, figuratively speaking, just kick the living snot right out of OPEC.

Now, if we've interpreted all, or even just any, of that correctly, is there some reason beyond our pathetically limited understanding here, some grand strategic purpose out there we can't fathom, why we wouldn't want to set out immediately to start doing just that?

Maybe our sage and wise Coal Country press, who have remained so silent on all of these potentials for so long, could enlighten us, could bring us all into their apparent circle of quiet understanding as to why such seemingly dramatic potentials aren't even worth talking about openly and publicly, aren't worth informing the Coal Country public of, much less reducing to practice and putting into action.


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