United States Patent: 4687570


In our reports yesterday, concerning "US Patent 4,011,153 - Liquefaction and Desulfurization of Coal using Synthesis Gas" and "United States Patent 4.040,976 - Process of Treating Carbonaceous Material with Carbon Dioxide", we documented that, in various Coal conversion and liquefaction processes, valuable Methane gas is, or can be, generated as a by-product.

Should you refer to those reports, you will see statements such as "off-gas could be ... utilized for methane production" and "reactor effluent (can be made) to react further ... to form ... methane".

Aside from the fact that Methane can be utilized to react with recovered and reclaimed Carbon Dioxide, in various "reforming" reactions, such as described best and most lately by Penn State University scientists Craig Grimes and Chunsan Song; and, by former West Virginia University graduate student Mahesh Iyer; and, made thereby to synthesize a variety of valuable liquid hydrocarbons, all as we have documented for you, Methane can, as well, again as we've documented, be utilized to great benefit in some processes of Coal conversion.

The United States Department of Energy, through it's Brookhaven, NY, National Laboratory, confirms that fact via the US Patent we enclose in this dispatch.

Some additional comment follows excerpts from:


"United States Patent 4,687,570 - Direct Use of Methane in Coal Liquefaction


Date: August, 1987


Inventors: Muthu Sundaram and Meyer Steinberg, NY


Assignee: The United States of America

Abstract: This invention relates to a process for converting solid carbonaceous material, such as coal, to liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons utilizing methane ... . ...  A hydrogen donor solvent or liquid vehicle such as tetralin ... may be used in a slurry mix (with) the coal or carbonaceous feed. ... Carbonaceous feed material can either be natural, such as coal, wood, oil shale, petroleum, tar sands, etc., or man-made residual oils, tars, and heavy hydrocarbon residues from other processing systems.

Claims: A process for the liquefaction of carbonaceous materials to produce predominantly liquid hydrocarbons comprising heating said materials in a liquefaction reactor (with) methane ...  (and) wherein the solid carbonaceous material is coal. 

The process ... wherein the carbonaceous material is slurried with a donor solvent selected from the group consisting of hydroaromatic solvents and hydrogenated anthracene oil.

Background: The liquefaction of coal to yield liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons has been known for some time. ... To date, all existing processes for the direct liquefaction of coal by solvent extraction have utilized molecular hydrogen (and the) considerable expense of hydrogen production is one of the significant drawbacks to commercial application of coal liquefaction technology. 

By the present invention, applicants have developed a process that eliminates the need to use the costly molecular hydrogen in the (coal) liquefaction. Applicants have found that methane can be used in place of molecular hydrogen in the liquefaction process without significantly decreasing the yields of the desired oil products. The use of methane, in the form of natural gas ... is less expensive to use than molecular hydrogen derived from the gasification of coal or the reforming of methane. 

In contrast to the prior art processes, which all represent hydrogenation processes, the instant invention accomplishes the liquefaction of carbonaceous materials such as coal in a pressurized methane atmosphere. Not only does the instant process have the economical advantages discussed above, it also has an advantage over the conventional hydrogenation approaches in curtailing the amount of unwanted C1 (through) C4 hydrocarbon gas products formed during the liquefaction process."



Note that primary Coal oils, such as "anthracene", above, can be hydrogenated, and utilized as a primary Coal solvent in this process; as can "tetralin", an hydrogenated version, we believe, of the long-known Coal oil Naphthalene, which we also believe to be specified by WVU in their "West Virginia Process" for direct Coal liquefaction.


So, not only can Methane, which can be recovered as a by-product of other Coal-to-Hydrocarbon conversion processes - some of which, as in US Patent 4.040,976, noted above, actually consume CO2 - be used in place of more expensive molecular Hydrogen in a process that converts Coal into more versatile, and increasingly needed, hydrocarbon liquids,but:

Such use of Methane - - which can, as we've documented, in addition to being produced as a by-product of Coal liquefaction, be synthesized from Carbon Dioxide via the 1912 Nobel Prize-winning Sabatier process now being further developed by NASA for use on the planet Mars - - instead of Hydrogen, in Coal conversion processes, actually improves the mix of hydrocarbons produced from Coal "by curtailing the amount of unwanted ... hydrocarbon gas products formed during the liquefaction process".

Further: Our own United States Government established all of that knowledge, and has known it to be true, and has owned the rights to use it, as herein, for more than two decades.

When, do you suppose, the citizens of the United States who, in theory, not only paid, through their taxes, for that knowledge to be established; but, also, through their Government, own it, will be privileged to just even learn about it - much less to utilize it to free themselves from economic bondage to largely unfriendly overseas petroleum powers?

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