Energy Citations Database (ECD) - - Document #6286660

We've many times documented that Coal can be converted into quite superior liquid aviation fuel.

That fact, actually, as we've documented, was known in Morgantown, West Virginia, as far back as the middle years of World War II, since WV's own then-US Congressman Jennings Randolph took it upon himself at that time to have West Virginia University's labs brew up some Gasoline, out of Coal, for his airplane, and then flew from Morgantown to Washington, DC, to demonstrate the truth that Coal could be converted into any form of liquid fuel.

The Maryland Civil Air Patrol is kind enough to record the facts for us, as seen via the link:

Civil Air Patrol - Maryland MD-002; wherein you will find a photograph of Jennings Randolph, and his pilot, standing in front of a small airplane, with what looks like a 5-gallon Gasoline can, labeled "Coal".

The explanatory text reads, in part:

"Nov. 6 - 43 - End of 175 mile flight from Morgantown to Washington National Airport in first plane in U.S. fueled with gasoline from coal. Rep. Jennings Randolph (left) stands with Major Arthur C. Hyde of the Civil Air Patrol (founder of MD-002, Hyde Field Senior Squadron) following a 175-mile flight from Morgantown, WV to Washington National Airport. The single-engine Stinson was powered by gasoline derived from coal."

So, since it was obvious that scientists in Morgantown, WV, already knew how to convert Coal into Gasoline, it's not too surprising that our United States Government would assign supervisory responsibilities to those scientists for the Government's own, less-than-well-publicized, further development of Coal conversion and liquefaction technologies.

For instance, as we reported in:

WV USDOE Manages NC-TN Coal to Plasitcs | Research & Development; concerning: "Synthesis of Methyl Methacrylate From Coal-Derived Syngas; 1998; Work Performed Under Contract No.: DE-AC22-94PC94065, (by) Research Triangle Institute; Research Triangle Park, NC; Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport, TN; and, Bechtel, San Francisco, CA, and Houston, TX; for: U.S. Department of Energy; Office of Fossil Energy; Federal Energy Technology Center; Morgantown, WV";

they've had to ride herd on a pretty-well scattered group of independent operators.

Herein, we learn that the same organization of West Virginia energy experts was assigned to manage yet another Coal conversion development project conducted in the hinterlands, one that took place about as far away from the true heart of US Coal Country, and from the Capitol of the USA, as you could get, and still have a little bit of Coal, at least, to fiddle around with; and, another Coal conversion project focused, almost one half of a century after the fact, on again proving the point made by Jennings Randolph back in 1943:

Coal can be efficiently converted into perfectly-acceptable liquid aviation fuel.

Comment, with additional links and excerpts, follows excerpts from the initial link in this dispatch to:

View Document or Access Individual Pages10.2172/6286660

"Evaluation of a Coal-derived Liquid as a Feedstock for the Production of High-density Aviation Turbine Fuel

OSTI ID: 6286660; Report Number: DOE/MC/11076-2993; DOE Contract: FC21-86MC11076

Work Performed Under Cooperative Agreement No.: DE-FC21-86MC11076; For U.S. Department of Energy;

Office of Fossil Energy; Morgantown Energy Technology Center; Morgantown, West Virginia

Date: August, 1989

Authors: K.P. Thomas and D.E. Hunter

Research Organization: Western Research Institute, Laramie, WY

(A note or two on the "Western Research Institute" would seem in order. And, as can be learned via:

http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/oil-gas/publications/EP/NT05681_KickOff.pdf; and:

WRI - About WRI; and: WRI - History; the: "Western Research (is) an independent research corporation, (and) was established in 1983 when the U.S. Department of Energy de-federalized the Laramie Energy Technology Center.

(The) timeline, however, stretches back to 1924, when a petroleum research station was established here by the Bureau of Mines to support development of Wyoming’s petroleum resources. During World War II, research was directed to the sources and characterization of aviation fuels.

Western Research Institute (WRI), located in Laramie, Wyoming, is a multi-million dollar, not-for-profit, research organization renowned for work in advanced energy systems, environmental technologies and highway materials research.  (The) headquarters are on the University of Wyoming campus and (the) 22-acre Advanced Technology Center (ATC) north of town provides additional laboratories, plus pilot facilities and room for new development.

(The original) Petroleum Experiment Station (was established in 1924 to) study characteristics of high-sulfur crude oil in Wyoming. (In) 1977 (the) Laramie Energy Technology Center (LETC) (became the lead) for U.S. DOE oil shale & underground coal gasification programs (and, in) 1983 Western Research Institute-LETC (was) de-Federalized (and, the) Cooperative Agreement with DOE (was) established."

So, it is, in essence, another US Government Skunk Works, similar to others about which we've reported; and, it is thus little wonder those of us living in the genuine heart of US Coal Country haven't heard about what's been done to build on the 1943 achievement of a West Virginia congressman, and the WVU scientists who got him off the ground.)

Abstract: The conversion of coal-derived liquids to transportation fuels has been the subject of many studies sponsored by the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Defense.

For the most part, these studies evaluated conventional petroleum processes for the production of specification-grade fuels. Recently, however, the interest of these two departments expanded to include the evaluation of alternate fossil fuels as a feedstock for the production of high-density aviation turbine fuel. In this study, we evaluated five processes for their ability to produce intermediates from a coal-derived liquid for the production of high-density turbine fuel. These processes include acid-base extraction to reduce the heteroatom content of the middle distillate and the atmospheric and vacuum gas oils, solvent dewaxing to reduce the paraffin (alkane) content of the atmospheric and vacuum gas oils, Attapulgus clay treatment to reduce the heteroatom content of the middle distillate, coking to reduce the distillate range of the vacuum gas oil, and hydrogenation to remove heteroatoms and to saturate aromatic rings in the middle distillate and atmospheric gas oil. The chemical and physical properties that the US Air Force considers critical for the development of high-denisty aviation turbine fuel are specific gravity and net heat of combustion. The target minimum values for these properties are a specific gravity of at least 0.85 and a net heat of combustion of at least 130,000 Btu/gal. In addition, the minimum hydrogen content is 13.0 wt %, the maximum freeze point is {minus} 53 F (minus 47 C), the maximum amount of aromatics is about 25 to 30 vol %, and the maximum amount of paraffins is 10 vol %.

(Obviously, the "high-density aviation turbine fuel" we can, as herein, make from Coal, is a tad more sophisticated than the Coal liquids ole' Jenn used to putter over the mountains to Washington, DC, back during World War II.)

Summary: The conversion of coal-derived liquids to transportation fuels has been the subject of many studies sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Defense. For the most part, these studies evaluated conventional petroleum processes for the production of specification-grade fuels.

Recently, however, the interest of these two departments expanded to include the evaluation of alternate fossil fuels as a feedstock for the production of high-density aviation turbine fuel. In this study, we evaluated five processes for their ability to produce intermediates from a coal-derived liquid for the production of high density turbine fuel. These processes include acid-base extraction to reduce the heteroatom content of the middle distillate and the atmospheric and vacuum gas oils, solvent dewaxing to reduce the paraffin (alkane) content of the atmospheric and vacuum gas oils, Attapulgus clay treatment to reduce the heteroatom content of the middle distillate, coking to reduce the distillate range of the vacuum gas oil, and hydrogenation to remove heteroatoms and to saturate aromatic rings in the middle distillate and atmospheric gas oil.

(Don't be distracted by the unnecessarily obtuse "attapulugus clay". As seen in:

Palygorskite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, "Palygorskite or attapulgite is a magnesium aluminum phyllosilicate ...which occurs in a type of clay soil common to the Southeastern United States. It is one of the types of fuller's earth";

it is as common, and as cheap, as, literally, dirt.

The "acid-base extraction" procedure is something that appears occasionally in the Coal conversion literature, and we will attempt to explain and clarify what it is in a coming report or two. Don't be distracted by it, either. It is a straightforward chemical process that can be conducted on an industrial scale.)

The chemical and physical properties that the U.S. Air Force considers critical for the development of a high density aviation turbine fuel are specific gravity and net heat of combustion.

The target minimum values for these properties are a specific gravity of at least 0.85 and a net heat of combustion of at least 130,000 Btu/gal. In addition, the minimum hydrogen content is 13.0 percent, the maximum freeze point is -53F (-47C), the maximum amount of aromatics is about 25 to 30 volume percent, and the maximum amount of paraffins is 10 volume percent.

To reduce the heteroatom and alkane content of those distillates that are potential feedstocks for the production of high-density turbine fuel (middle distillate, atmospheric gas oil, and vacuum gas oil) acid base extraction and solvent dewaxing, respectively, were evaluated as processes to produce suitable intermediates. Acid-base extraction reduced the nitrogen content of all of the distillates, and reduced the oxygen content of the middle distillate. However, solvent dewaxing did not have a significant affect on the chemical properties of this very aromatic fossil fuel.

Next, Attapulgus clay treatment was evaluated as a process to produce fuel candidates suitable for evaluation. In this case, the middle distillate was the only distillate treated because it already satisfied the distillate range requirement. This treatment, even though it did reduce the heteroatom content, did not produce a fuel candidate suitable for evaluation. Primarily, this was because the heteroatom and aromatic contents were still too high, and the hydregen content was too low.

Because the vacuum gas oil distills in a temperature range too high to be of direct use for the production of high-density turbine fuel, it was subjected to a coking process to reduce its distillate range. The distillate range and specific gravity of the coker distillate were reduced when compared to the vacuum gas oil. However, the heteroatom content was too high to warrant further evaluation of the distillate.

Because acid-base extraction and Attapulgus clay treatment did not reduce the heteroatom content of the distillates to the appropriate levels, hydrogenation was evaluated as a process to not only reduce the
heteroatom content but also to saturate the aromatic rings present in the middle distillate and atmospheric gas oil. The heteroatom content of the process intermediates was reduced to the part-per-million level, but the saturation of aromatic rings and olefins was not accomplished during the application of the single-stage hydrogenation process. Consequently, evaluation of the process intermediates as fuel candidates was not conducted.

(Those "process intermediates" weren't evaluated because a "single-stage hydrogenation process" couldn't accomplish the full "saturation of aromatic rings and olefins", although it did reduce the "heteroatom", i.e., Nitrogen and other unneeded/unwanted elements, content satisfactorily. The same is true of some natural petroleum "heavy" crudes, and conventional carbonaceous petroleum refinery residues, and, "two-stage hydrogenation processes" have been developed, and are commercially employed in conventional petroleum refineries, to accommodate those heavy natural petroleum feeds; as evidenced by:

ScienceDirect - Fuel Processing Technology : Upgrading petroleum residue by two-stage hydrocracking; concerning: "Upgrading petroleum residue by two-stage hydrocracking; State Key Laboratory of Heavy Oil Processing, University of Petroleum; China; 2003; Abstract: Two-stage hydrocracking of petroleum residue consisting of hydrogenation (at low temperature) and thermocracking (at high temperature) has been investigated. Compared with one-stage reaction, two-stage reaction seems to have the following advantages: lower coke formation, higher cracking and higher removal of heteroatoms. Anthracene had been regarded as the model compound of coke precursor. After two-stage hydrocracking, about 51 percent of anthracene was hydrogenated at a low temperature (416 C), and about 10 percent of the hydrogenated compound (9,10-dihydroanthracene) released the activated hydrogen which could prevent the residue from coke formation and removed the heteroatoms (i.e. sulfur and nitrogen) at a high temperature (436 C). Comparison of two kinds of reactions showed that the two-stage reaction was superior to the one-stage reaction";

wherein, interestingly, they utilized the primary Coal oil, "anthracene", as an essentially-equivalent material for conventional petroleum refinery "resid" in their design and development work.

Further, "two-stage" hydrogenation is so commonly used, that our own Occupational Safety and Health Administration has promulgated guidelines for it's safe employment, as seen in:

OSHA TECHNICAL MANUAL - SECTION IV: CHAPTER 2; concerning:  Petroleum Refining Processes:  Hydrocracking is a two-stage process combining catalytic cracking and hydrogenation, wherein heavier feedstocks are cracked in the presence of hydrogen to produce more desirable products. The process employs high pressure, high temperature, a catalyst, and hydrogen. Hydrocracking is used for feedstocks that are difficult to process by either catalytic cracking or reforming, since these feedstocks are characterized usually by a high polycyclic aromatic content and/or high concentrations of the two principal catalyst poisons, sulfur and nitrogen compounds. The hydrocracking process largely depends on the nature of the feedstock and the relative rates of the two competing reactions, hydrogenation and cracking. Heavy aromatic feedstock is converted into lighter products under a wide range of very high pressures (1,000-2,000 psi) and fairly high temperatures (750°-1,500° F), in the presence of hydrogen and special catalysts. When the feedstock has a high paraffinic content, the primary function of hydrogen is to prevent the formation of polycyclic aromatic compounds. Another important role of hydrogen in the hydrocracking process is to reduce tar formation and prevent buildup of coke on the catalyst. Hydrogenation also serves to convert sulfur and nitrogen compounds present in the feedstock to hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. Hydrocracking produces relatively large amounts of isobutane for alkylation feedstock. Hydrocracking also performs isomerization for pour-point control and smoke-point control, both of which are important in high-quality jet fuel."

Thus, the use of a second stage hydrogenation process is already "important" in the making of "jet fuel" from some natural petroleum.

And, even further, as seen in:

http://www.anl.gov/PCS/acsfuel/preprint%20archive/Files/16_1_BOSTON_04-72_0097.pdf; concerning the:

Catalytic Reforming Of Hydrogenated Shale Oil Naphtha; Bureau of Mines, Laramie, WY; Laramie Energy Research Center, Department of the Interior; Catalytic reforming is a process for converting low-octane naphthas or gasolines into high-octane products. Most catalytic reforming processes require very clean
feedstocks to avoid deactivating the catalysts. Raw shale-oil naphthas produced during retorting or by subsequent thermal cracking of the crude shale oil have poor color and oxidation stability; they turn dark in color and form large amounts of gum soon after they are prepared. Their instability and their high contents of sulfur and nitrogen compounds make them unsuitable as feedstocks to modern noble-metal catalytic reforming processes. To overcome the problems associated with upgrading shale-oil naphthas, production of stable naphthas by catalytic hydrogenation of crude shale oil or by coking of crude shale oil , followed by hydrogenation of the coker distillate, has been investigated";

the home institution of the same research group that didn't, apparently, want to go to the trouble of performing a two-stage hydrogenation on Coal liquids, didn't have any trouble at all doing exactly that in order to make certain that "Shale Oil" passed their standards for acceptability.

There is, thus, no defensible reason why a suitable "two-stage" hydrogenation could not have been applied to the Coal liquids, in order to make the full range of Coal liquefaction products suitable "for the production of specification-grade fuels".

However, as can be learned from our own United States Geologic Survey, via the link:

United States Oil Shale Deposits | Map, Geology & Resources; wherein we're told, in part, that:

Numerous deposits of oil shale ... are present in the United States. (One of the) two most important deposits (is) the Eocene Green River Formation in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah ... (and, because) of their size and grade, most investigations have focused on the Green River ... deposits.

In 1967, the U.S. Department of Interior began an extensive program to investigate the commercialization of the Green River oil-shale deposits. The dramatic increases in petroleum prices resulting from the OPEC oil embargo of 1973-74 triggered another resurgence of oil-shale activities during the 1970s and into the early 1980s. In 1974 several parcels of public oil-shale lands in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming were put up for competitive bid under the Federal Prototype Oil Shale Leasing Program. Two tracts were leased in Colorado (C-a and C-b) and two in Utah (U-a and U-b) to oil companies",

and, wherein those "oil companies" are further identified by this, and other resources, to include Exxon, Shell and Unocal, it's not too hard to conjure up some speculative reasons as to why it was too hard to do the same thing with Coal liquids, i.e., "two-stage hydrogenation", as they likely have to do, in any case, with Shale oil, which also requires a good bit of potentially groundwater-polluting hydrofracking to recover.

Further, as seen in:

Wyoming Oil Spill Hints At Niobrara Shale's Potential; concerning: "Cheyenne, Wyoming: Word is out that a well in southeast Wyoming has tapped oil from the Niobrara Shale – not from a company news release or government records, but from 15 acres of ranch land blackened by an oil spill";

it hasn't taken long for those oil companies to get back to their sloppy ways.)

In summary, ... we believe that a two-stage hydrogenation process can be employed to produce a high density turbine fuel that meets the requirements of the U.S. Air Force.

This premise is based on the observation that the process intermediates from hydrogenation contain high concentrations of dicyclic alkanes and indanes/tetralins, compounds that are necessary for the production of a high-density aviation turbine fuel."

----------------------

And, thus, if we did want to put ourselves out a bit, and perform a "two-stage hydrogenation process" on Coal liquids, just as is commonly done in many oil refineries to upgrade "heavy" crude natural petroleum, we couldmake a perfectly-acceptable "high density turbine fuel that meets the requirements of the U.S. Air Force" out of Coal.

Note, as well, the mention of "tetralin"s, which is the hydrogenated version of the primary Coal oil, Naphthalene, that has been employed, as seen in:

WVU Hydrogenates Coal Tar | Research & Development; concerning: "Hydrogenation of Naphthalene; Abhijit Bhagavatula; Thesis submitted to the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University; West Virginia. 2009' Abstract: The hydrogenation of naphthalene and coal-tar distillates has been carried out ...  to hydrogenate coal-derived solvents (for) the conversion of coal to ... hydrocarbons, from which liquid fuels such as gasoline, diesel, kerosene, etc., can be produced. Tetralin... was used as a hydrogen donor for this process";

by West Virginia University in their "West Virginia Process" for the direct liquefaction of Coal, wherein they can make "gasoline, diesel (and) kerosene out of Coal, in addition to, as herein, Wyoming's "high density turbine fuel", that, if a "a two-stage hydrogenation process" were used to make it, out of Coal, would meet "the requirements of the U.S. Air Force".


West Virginia Coal Association - PO Box 3923 - Charleston, WV 25339 | 304-342-4153 | website developed by brickswithoutstraw