United States Patent Application: 0150141699

Right off the bat: The document we bring to you herein is immensely complex. The terminology used will be unfamiliar to most of the readers we address - - but, that terminology will be very familiar to anyone schooled or experienced in the processing, the refining, of natural petroleum in the making of conventional hydrocarbon fuels, and of the range of products we might term "petro-chemicals".

And, we won't be producing nearly all of the details in our excerpts.

In essence, Coal can be converted into hydrocarbon compounds that can be processed into conventional hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals within, for the most part, our existing petroleum refining and processing industrial infrastructure.

That is accomplished through a combination of processes that, while they don't convert fully 100% of the carbon content of Coal into hydrocarbons, do accomplish the conversion without the need for wholesale changes in our existing petroleum refineries, or refinery processes, or the construction of entirely new refineries, with all of the immense capital expenditure such changes and construction would entail.

The net effect is to remove some Carbon from Coal, in the form of commercially valuable Coke, while adding some Hydrogen. And, thus, two product streams are generated, Coke for steel-making and other industrial purposes, and, hydrocarbons for final refining into fuels and chemicals.

Further: The technical process, or, perhaps more appropriately, technical concept, disclosed herein by a very long-term player in the hydrocarbon industry is presented more as a general "road map", as they themselves label it, for the economically viable and industrially practical conversion of Coal into hydrocarbons and other products. It is, as we will see in reports to follow, accompanied by detailed and specific expositions of individual steps along the course outlined and plotted by that "road map".

And, again, as we take it, the full technology represents a more economically pragmatic way to go about the conversion of our vast United States of America Coal resource into anything and everything we're now squandering our national treasure, and impoverishing future generations of Americans, to continue buying from the alien nations of OPEC.

Comment follows and is inserted within excerpts from the initial link in this dispatch to the very recent:

"United States Patent Application 20150141699 - Process for Pyrolysis of a Coal Feed

PROCESS FOR PYROLYSIS OF A COAL FEED - Barger, Paul T.

PROCESS FOR PYROLYSIS OF A COAL FEED - Patent application

Date: May 21, 2015

Inventors: Paul Barger, et. al., Illinois

Assignee: UOP LLC, Des Plaines, Illinois

(As can be learned via:

http://www.uop.com/ and UOP LLC - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; "UOP LLC, formerly known as Universal Oil Products, is a multi-national company developing and delivering technology to the petroleum refining, gas processing, petrochemical production, and major manufacturing industries";

UOP was founded in 1914, and is now a subsidiary of the better known Honeywell. And, as can be learned for one example  in our report of:

Chicago 1945 Coal to High-Octane Gasoline | Research & Development | News; concerning: "United States Patent 2,377,728 -   Hydrogenation of Hydrocarbonaceous Materials; 1945;  Assignee:   Universal Oil Products, Chicago; Abstract: This invention relates to the   production of valuable liquid products including high antiknock motor fuel from coal";

UOP has been working on the potentials for converting Coal into liquid hydrocarbon "motor fuel" for well more than half a century.)

Abstract: A process for pyrolyzing a coal feed is described. A coal feed is pyrolyzed into a coal tar stream and a coke stream in a pyrolysis zone. The coal tar stream is separated into at least a pitch stream comprising aromatic hydrocarbons. The pitch stream is reacted in a reaction zone to add at least one functional group to an aromatic ring of the aromatic hydrocarbons in the pitch stream. The functionalized pitch stream is recycled to the pyrolysis zone.

(Some clarification of terminology might be needed. First, as seen in:

Pyrolysis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; "Pyrolysis is used on a massive scale to turn  coal  into  coke for metallurgy, especially steelmaking".

"Pyrolysis", as a term applied to Coal, can mean just coking. And, as we've reported many times, as in, for just one example:

Coke Oven Gas to Synfuel | Research & Development | News; which included separate reference to a report concerning developments in China: "The 120 000 t/a methanol project based on coke oven gas designed by the Second Design Institute of Chemical Industry started production in Kingboard (Hebei) Coking Co., Ltd. on Sept. 5. The product reached the standard for AA-grade products in the United States. The capacity of this unit is 40 000 t/a higher than the first methanol unit based on coke oven gas in China complete in Qujing, Yunnan province in December 2004";

Coke oven off-gas is composed of volatile components, carbon monoxide and hydrogen for example, and can be considered a form of syngas, with useful fuel properties and hydrocarbon conversion potentials.)

Claims: A process comprising: pyrolyzing a coal feed into a coal tar stream and a coke stream in a pyrolysis zone; fractionating the coal tar stream into at least a pitch stream comprising aromatic hydrocarbons; reacting the pitch stream in a reaction zone to add at least one functional group to an aromatic ring of the aromatic hydrocarbons in the pitch stream; and recycling the functionalized pitch stream to the pyrolysis zone.

The process ... wherein reacting the pitch stream comprises one or more of alkylating the pitch stream, methylating the pitch stream, acylating the pitch stream, and formylating the pitch stream..

(Concerning the above, see:.

Alkylation unit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; "Alkylation unit, is one of the conversion processes used in the petroleum refineries. It is used to convert isobutane and low-molecular-weight alkenes(primarily a mixture of propene and butene) into an alkylate, a high octane gasoline component"; and:

Alkylation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Methylation is the most common type of alkylation, being associated with the transfer of a methyl group. Methylation is distinct from alkylation in that it is specifically the transfer of one carbon, whereas alkylation can refer to the transfer of long chain carbon groups".

The full articles contain some explanation, as well, of the "acylating" and "formylating" reactions, and how they are applied, among other things, in petroleum refining.)

The process ... wherein the reaction zone is selected from the group consisting of a fixed bed reactor, a slurry reactor, a fluidized bed reactor, an ebulating bed reactor, a transport bed reactor, a two-phase bed reactor, a riser reactor. and a batch reactor (and) wherein reacting the pitch stream comprises contacting the pitch stream with an acid catalyst (and) wherein reacting the pitch stream further comprises feeding at least one of an olefin and an alcohol into the reaction zone.

(The above and following claims are important, since the "alcohol", specified to be "methanol", can be made in the process as one product of the Coal conversion, as will be seen.)

The process ... wherein reacting the pitch stream comprises methylating the pitch stream (and) wherein methylating the pitch stream comprises contacting the pitch stream with methanol ... and a catalyst selected from the group consisting of metal oxides, mixed metal oxides, metal halides (etc.).

The process ... further comprising: gasifying a portion of the coal feed to produce a syngas stream comprising H2 and CO; reacting the syngas stream over a catalyst to produce methanol; and feeding the methanol to the reaction zone.

(The above would be much as in our earlier reference to China's "Kingboard (Hebei) Coking Co." Methanol manufacturing facility, although it is syngas directly derived from Coal, as opposed to Coke Oven gas.)

The process ... wherein reacting the pitch stream comprises acylating the pitch stream (and) wherein acylating the pitch stream comprises contacting the pitch stream with acetic acid, acetyl chloride or acetic anhydride and a catalyst selected from the group consisting of metal oxides, mixed metal oxides, metal halides, modified metal oxides, zeolites, non-zeolitic molecular sieves, clays, (etc.).

The process ... further comprising: gasifying a portion of the coal feed to produce a syngas stream comprising H2 and CO; reacting the syngas stream over a catalyst to produce acetic acid; and feeding the acetic acid to the reaction zone (and) wherein reacting the pitch stream comprises alkylating the pitch stream (and) wherein alkylating the pitch stream comprises contacting the pitch stream with at least one of an olefin, an alcohol or an alkyl halide and a catalyst selected from the group consisting of metal oxides, mixed metal oxides, metal halides, modified metal oxides, zeolites, non-zeolitic molecular sieves, clays, sulfonic acid resins, (and, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, etc.).

The process ... further comprising: gasifying a portion of the coal feed to produce a syngas stream comprising H2 and CO; processing the syngas stream to produce methanol; converting the alcohol to olefins; and feeding the olefins to the reaction zone.

(The "olefins" are a class of hydrocarbons that are valuable in and of themselves, and include, according to the full Disclosure, and for example, ethylene and propylene. And, yes, Methanol, as made from Coal syngas, can be directly converted into various olefins. See, for one example, our report of:

http://www.wvcoal.com/research-development/belgium-a-coal-methanol-plastics.html; concerning the French multinational oil giant Total's plans to make olefins from Methanol, which is itself to be made from Coal.)

The process ...  wherein reacting the pitch stream comprises formylating the pitch stream (and) wherein formylating the pitch stream comprises contacting the pitch stream with a formylating agent, comprising formic acid, formaldehyde (etc.).

The process ... further comprising: gasifying a portion of the coal feed to produce a syngas stream comprising H2 and CO; reacting the syngas stream over a catalyst to produce formic acid; and feeding the formic acid to the reaction zone. 

The process ... further comprising: gasifying a portion of the coal feed to produce a syngas stream comprising H2 and CO; and feeding the CO to the reaction zone.

A process comprising: pyrolyzing a first coal feed into a coal tar stream and a coke stream in a pyrolysis zone; fractionating the coal tar stream into at least a pitch stream comprising aromatic hydrocarbons; gasifying a second coal feed to produce a syngas stream comprising H2 and CO; processing the syngas stream to produce one or more of methanol, olefins, acetic acid, and formic acid; feeding the one or more of methanol, olefins, acetic acid, and formic acid into a reaction zone; reacting the pitch stream in the reaction zone to add at least one functional group to an aromatic ring of the aromatic hydrocarbons in the pitch stream; and recycling the functionalized pitch stream into the pyrolysis zoneA process comprising: pyrolyzing a coal feed into a coal tar stream and a coke stream in a pyrolysis zone; fractionating the coal tar stream into at least a pitch stream comprising aromatic hydrocarbons; reacting the pitch stream in a reaction zone to add at least one functional group to an aromatic ring of the aromatic hydrocarbons in the pitch stream; and recycling the functionalized pitch stream to the pyrolysis zone.

Many different types of chemicals are produced from the processing of petroleum. However, petroleum is becoming more expensive because of increased demand in recent decades.

Therefore, attempts have been made to provide alternative sources for the starting materials for manufacturing chemicals. Attention is now being focused on producing liquid hydrocarbons from solid carbonaceous materials, such as coal, which is available in large quantities in countries such as the United States and China.

Pyrolysis of coal produces coke and coal tar. The coke-making or "coking" process consists of heating the material in closed vessels in the absence of oxygen to very high temperatures. Coke is a porous but hard residue that is mostly carbon and inorganic ash, which is used in making steel.

(Actually, we can do more with the "coke" than make steel. See, for just one example, our report of:

Mobil Oil Converts CoalTL Residues to Hydrocarbon Syngas | Research & Development | News; concerning:  "United States Patent 4,583,993 - Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen from Carbonaceous Material; 1986; Inventor: Nai Chen, NJ; Assignee: Mobil Oil Corporation, NY; Abstract: Hydrogen and carbon monoxide are produced from coal, char or other carbonaceous material in a processing combination comprising a catalytic CO generator employing as reactant materials, fluid carbon material and CO2 product of the reaction of steam with CO to produce hydrogen and CO2. CO2 produced in the process is relied upon as the primary endothermic heat source in the fluid CO generator. Claims: A method for producing separate streams of hydrogen and carbon monoxide of relatively high purity from a char like product selected from the group consisting of ... char product of coal volatilization ... comprises ... passing a char product ... comprising carbonaceous material and metal deposits ...  to a fluidized char particle carbon monoxide generation zone in admixture with preheated carbon dioxide wherein the primary source of endothermic reaction heat to form CO is supplied by said fluid char particles and said preheated carbon dioxide";

wherein it's seen that coke, aka the "char product of coal volatilization", can be itself gasified to form a hydrocarbon synthesis gas blend of, primarily, carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which can then be itself chemically, catalytically condensed to form more hydrocarbons. Much of that will be made clear in our pending reports of additional UOP technology related to, integrated with that, of our subject herein, "United States Patent Application 20150141699 - Process for Pyrolysis of a Coal Feed".)

Coal tar is the volatile material that is driven off during heating, and it comprises a mixture of a number of hydrocarbon compounds. It can be separated to yield a variety of organic compounds, such as benzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene, anthracene, and phenanthrene. These organic compounds can be used to make numerous products, for example, dyes, drugs, explosives, flavorings, perfumes, preservatives, synthetic resins, and paints and stains.

While lighter hydrocarbon streams from coal tar can be more easily processed to produce desirable products, the pitch stream includes aromatic cores that make the pitch more difficult to react in further processing. The residual pitch left from the separation conventionally is used for paving, roofing, waterproofing, and insulation.

Summary: One aspect of the invention involves a process for pyrolyzing a coal feed. A coal feed is pyrolyzed into a coal tar stream and a coke stream in a pyrolysis zone. The coal tar stream is separated into at least a pitch stream comprising aromatic hydrocarbons. The pitch stream is reacted in a reaction zone to add at least one functional group to an aromatic ring of the aromatic hydrocarbons in the pitch stream. The functionalized pitch stream is recycled to the pyrolysis zone.

Another aspect of the invention involves a process for pyrolyzing a coal feed. A first coal feed is pyrolyzed into a coal tar stream and a coke stream in a pyrolysis zone. The coal tar stream is separated into at least a pitch stream comprising aromatic hydrocarbons. A second coal feed is gasified to produce a syngas stream comprising H2 and CO. The syngas stream is processed to produce one or more of methanol, olefins, acetic acid, and formic acid. The one or more of methanol, olefins, acetic acid, and formic acid is fed to a reaction zone. The pitch stream is reacted in the reaction zone to add at least one functional group to an aromatic ring of the aromatic hydrocarbons in the pitch stream. The functionalized pitch stream is recycled into the pyrolysis zone.

While at least one exemplary embodiment has been presented in the foregoing detailed description of the invention, it should be appreciated that a vast number of variations exist. It should also be appreciated that the exemplary embodiment or exemplary embodiments are only examples, and are not intended to limit the scope, applicability, or configuration of the invention in any way.

Rather, the foregoing detailed description will provide those skilled in the art with a convenient road map for implementing an exemplary embodiment of the invention".

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As noted in our introductory comments, "United States Patent Application 20150141699 - Process for Pyrolysis of a Coal Feed" is a complex piece of work. It demonstrates, yet again, that Coal can be converted into, for instance, Methanol, but, that Methanol is then used in further reactions specified by the Disclosure to improve the total Coal utilization and the ultimate product yield.

Much of it will be clarified in our following reports of the companion UOP Coal-to-Hydrocarbon technologies developed in concert with, and dependent upon, this specific and basic Coal pyrolysis, a sophisticated coking, process that makes the carbon content of "a Coal Feed" available for further reactions and more processing that lead, finally, to the synthesis of hydrocarbon products - fuels and chemicals - of added, and much higher, value.


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