We'll presume you to be familiar with Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. Why we didn't look into it further, earlier on, is unaccountable.
Since we remain uncertain of the functional transmission of links, we'll include a few, but suggest you/your reporter visit the site and look up:
We're pretty certain you'll find the Coal Conversion to Liquid Fuel details, background, history and references to additional paths of discovery rewarding.
They are good summaries, but we remain hopeful you are pursuing the direct contacts we've provided you at SASOL, Eastman, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips (or is it PhillipsConoco), and the various universities (Dayton, WVU, U of ND, etc).
Here are the article links, just in case they do function (bear in mind the articles include valuable links themselves):
"The Fischer-Tropsch process (or Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis) is a catalyzedchemical reaction in which synthesis gas (syngas), a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, is converted into liquid hydrocarbons of various forms. The most common catalysts are based on iron and cobalt, although nickel and ruthenium have also been used. The principal purpose of this process is to produce a synthetic petroleum substitute, typically from coal, natural gas or biomass, for use as synthetic lubrication oil or as synthetic fuel. This synthetic fuel runs trucks, cars, and some aircraft engines. (Refer to Sasol.) The use of diesel is increasing in recent years."
"The Bergius Process is a method of production of liquid hydrocarbons for use as synthetic fuel by hydrogenation of high-volatile bituminous coal at high temperature and pressure. It was first developed by Friedrich Bergius in 1913."
"The Karrick process is a low-temperature carbonization (LTC) of coal, shale, lignite or any carbonaceous materials. These are heated at 680 °F (360 °C) to 1380 °F (360 °C to 749 °C) in the absence of air to distill out oil and gas. The process was the work of oil shale technologist Lewis C. Karrick at the U.S. Bureau of Mines in the 1920s."
In addition, Mike, there are Exxon-Mobil's MTG process, and the technology employed by Eastman in Tennessee. SASOL uses their own, highly-developed version of either the Fischer-Tropsch or Bergius processes, perhaps a hybrid of the two, depending on the source. If you've called one of the contacts there we provided you, you probably know for sure by now.
But, please, note especially our own, home-grown, USBM Karrick process, and it's ability to employ bituminous coal, lignite, shale "or any carbonaceous materials". That could, we think, mean sewer sludge, old tires, scrap wood and cellulosic crop waste - in addition to coal mine refuse.
Finally, it would be a kindness if you were to acknowledge receipt and let us know whether or not the links Melissa and I send function.