We have many times cited, and made reference to, the work of West Virginia University in the science and technology of Coal liquefaction and gasification; science and technology directed towards the manufacture of hydrocarbon liquid and gaseous replacements for anything we now derive from petroleum-based resources.

We have also noted and documented the cooperation between WVU and the official organization which has been established in China, to further advance China's ambitious plans for the development of an extensive industry based on such Coal conversion technology.

Herein, we see that collaborating scientists from WVU and China teamed up to openly provide us all with a concise overview of Coal conversion science, an enlightening, synopsis, as it were, of the different types of Coal conversion technologies, of their histories, and, of their potentials.

First, though, a little about the lead named author:

As can be learned via:

WVU CEMR: and Chemical Engineering - Dr.Dady Dadyburjor;

Dr. Dady B. Dadyburjor, whom we have previously cited in the course of our reportage, is both a Professor of Chemical Engineering and a Professor within the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, at WVU.

He also serves also as a Resident Faculty Fellow at the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the US Department of Energy.

His research interests center on the production of fuels and chemicals from inexpensive feed stocks, and some specific topics he has addressed include the production of synthesis gas (a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen) and products from synthesis gas. Current projects include the production of diesel and gasoline fuels from synthesis gas and the production of useful chemicals from green- house gases, the production of high-molecular-weight alcohols, the design and use of cheap and of disposable catalysts in coal liquefaction and the co-liquefaction of coal and waste materials such as used tires.

Dr. Dadyburjor's co-author, Zhenyu Liu, is with the State Key Laboratory of Coal Conversion; Institute of Coal Chemistry; Chinese Academy of Science.

Brief comment follows very abbreviated excerpts from the initial link in this dispatch to:

"Coal Conversion Processes: Liquefaction; 2003; John Wiley & Sons, Inc

By: Dady B. Dadyburjor and Zhenyu Liu

Abstract: Coal liquefaction incorporates both an increase in the Hydrogen/Carbon ratio and removal of heteroatoms (S, N, O) and inorganic oxides (ash). Successful industrial processes must incorporate both these steps along with the transport of solid- and slurry-phase material in large-scale processing. The H/C ratio can be increased using high temperatures and pressures and a solvent (generally process derived), or by a catalyst, or by heating rapidly in the absence of a solvent in hydrogen or an inert atmosphere.

Sometimes there are advantages to processing coal simultaneously with other fossil fuels such as resids. Typically, such operations, termed coprocessing, result in improved removal of heteroatoms and ash. The use of solids and slurries has resulted in novel reactors and processing steps. Fuel production can be direct, from the coal itself, or indirect, from synthesis gas (CO and H2) obtained by gasification of the coal.

Synthesis gas, in particular, can be used to produce chemicals other than fuels. The production of these chemicals often can be used to make favorable the economics of fuel production from coal.

Liquefaction is the generic term for converting coal to fuels and chemicals. Coal has been described variously, depending on the context, as “nature's dump” and “nature's storehouse.”

The reason is that while the primary constituents of coal are carbon and hydrogen, one also finds oxygen, sulfur, and nitrogen (generally classified as “heteroatoms”). Lesser amounts of many other elements can be detected (as inorganic oxides, or “mineral matter”) as well. All methods for converting coal to fuels, and most methods of converting coal to chemicals, require both an increase in the hydrogen/carbon (H/C) ratio and
removal of sulfur, nitrogen, and the other elements.

Coal can be converted to liquid and gaseous fuels and chemicals by two different processing routes, normally termed “direct” and “indirect.”

Direct liquefaction processes result in primary products (liquids or solids) of molecular weight greater
than, or of the order of magnitude of, the fuels and chemicals desired. Catalysts may be used. Secondary processing is usually required to form fuels and chemicals. Some direct liquefaction schemes also involve chemical pretreatment of the coal. Other schemes involve a second feed source, generally heavy fractions of petroleum (coal–oil coprocessing), sometimes recyclable wastes (coal–waste coprocessing).

Indirect liquefaction processes, on the other hand, always require an initial gasification of coal to synthesis gas (“syngas”; CO + H2), and this is followed by additional steps in which the syngas is catalytically recombined to form hydrocarbons and/or oxygenates.

(Note: Methanol and Ethanol are "oxygenates".)

In the 1990s, the US Department of Energy (USDOE) considered catalytic two-stage liquefaction and coal/oil and coal–waste coprocessing as the two major elements of its direct coal liquefaction (DCL) program. Major elements of the indirect coal liquefaction program were advanced Fischer-Tropsch technology for transportation fuels and processes for oxygenated fuel additives and high value chemicals.

At the turn of the century, USDOE's Vision 21 Concept has as a goal the development of a suite of “modules” that can be interconnected to design a plant that takes advantage of local resources and supply local needs. The object is for the plant to be able to use one or more fuel types (coal, natural gas, biomass, petroleum coke from oil refineries, waste from municipalities) to produce multiple products (one or more of electricity, heat, fuels, chemicals, hydrogen) at high efficiencies."


Our excerpts can't do appropriate justice to Dadyburjor's and Liu's full exposition; and, we're at a loss to provide any explanatory or informative comment.

Further, the article contains an extensive reference list, with some links to other information resources that would be worthy of further exploration by anyone genuinely interested.

Suffice it to say, that:

Given the documented history and cogent technical explanations of Coal conversion science and practice provided herein by Dadyburjor and Liu, there can be no remaining questions, or doubts, concerning the plain fact that Coal can, efficiently, be converted into anything we now obtain from increasingly dear natural petroleum; and, from the increasingly troublesome and dangerous sources of that natural petroleum.

It's far, far past time some strong questions were loudly asked in US Coal Country; questions  that should long ago have been asked.

Questions that should have long ago been publicly answered.

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