United States Patent: 4132639

 

As further testament both to the reality of Coal liquefaction technology, and to the understanding of it that exists within certain circles of our own US Government, we see herein that scientists at our USDOE's Oak Ridge, Tennessee, National Laboratory devised a process for better treating and refining raw hydrocarbon liquids once they are made from Coal.

When you examine the Disclosure, you will be led to think of it as a simple thing.

But, it leads to some complicated questions; one of which we ask, following excerpts from:

"United States Patent 4,132,639 - Improving Sedimentation and Filterability of Coal-derived Liquids

Date: January, 1979

 

Inventors: Sidney Katz and Billy Rogers, TN

 

Assignee: The United States of America

 

Abstract: An improvement in the separation of suspended solids from coal-derived liquids (is achieved) by contacting the coal-derived liquid containing suspended solids with an effective amount of an additive selected from the group of sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, phosphoric anhydride and salts of sulfuric and phosphoric acid (under specified conditions) to achieve the desired separation rate.

Government Interests: This invention was made in the course of, or under, a contract with the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration. It is related in general to the art of coal liquefaction and particularly to the separation of finely divided solid particles from coal liquefaction products.

Claims: (A) process for separating suspended solids from the carbonaceous liquid product resulting from the liquefaction of coals ... .

Description and Background: A variety of processes have been proposed for converting solid carbonaceous material such as coal ... into a liquid form reduced in impurities such as sulfur and ash. Some liquefaction processes convert the carbonaceous material into a liquid fuel suitable for combustion or a synthetic crude suitable for use as a feed for a gasoline refining plant.

(Note: Our United States Government itself, via the USDOE, said, more than thirty years ago, that "liquefaction processes" already existed which could convert Coal into "a synthetic crude suitable for use as a feed for a gasoline refining plant".)

The separation of suspended solids from coal-derived liquids is one of the more formidable problems facing the establishment of a large-scale coal liquefaction industry. The solids content of most coal-derived liquids is largely present as sub-micron particles, including inorganic ash particles.

Several methods of separating coal-derived liquids have been proposed including filtration, magnetic separation, flash distillation, hydroclones, centrifuges, and settling. With the exception of flash distillation each of these methods depend upon the size of the particles as a separation parameter and would be enhanced if the particles were made significantly larger than their original size.

One disadvantage in the prior art processes involving the addition of materials to coal-derived liquid to promote precipitation and enlargement of solids is the requirement for separating and clean-up of large quantities of promoter materials.

Since coal hydrogenation products are typically produced at temperatures greater than 300C, the requirement for cooling prior to solids removal represents a substantial investment in the form of heat exchange equipment, large settling vessels, etc. The large quantities of sludge would cause severe plugging problems in filtration processes so the separation step is limited to sedimentation-type processes.

Summary: It is an object of this invention to provide a method for separating solids from coal-derived liquids including solutions of liquid coal products ... (and) ... to provide a method for increasing the size of particulate solids in coal-derived liquids including solutions of liquid coal products which does not require the addition of expensive materials or the recycle of large quantities of precipitation solvents or liquefied coal product fractions. 

It is a further object to provide a method for enhancing the separation of solids from coal-derived liquids which requires the addition of only small quantities of inexpensive material which need not be recovered."

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So, more than thirty years ago, our own US Government knew enough about "coal-derived liquids" to spend, unbeknownst to us, at a time when OPEC extortions and turmoil were really just beginning, our tax money on an effort that led to a process which converts Coal into a "synthetic crude suitable for use as a feed for a gasoline refining plant".

Seriously: Our US Government, We the People, own this technology; we have owned it for three decades.


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