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PeakOil is You

PeakOil is You

Coal to Liquid Fuels (merged)

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Unread postby The_Virginian » Thu 23 Sep 2004, 05:50:47

Sulfer emmisions (acid raid producing smog) are up 4% this year..

(wow it was on Yahoo news, but i've been searching the stories for 20 min now and can't find it there...)

Contenental fish contaminated w/ mercury etc.

So the environment is not yet Our main concern, though it should be...


My other big concern w/ Synthetic oil production from Coal is: How fast can it be produced.

IOW, look at China. It has huge coal reserves that are not meeting even the demand for Electrictiy simply because their are physical limits as to how much coal can be removed at any one time

And china will build two SASOL type plants, hoping to inmort coal from Poland, Ukraine, USA, etc. etc.

COAL will go up in price, and go down in overall qaulity (we will use super high sulfer grey coal in 20 years mark my words).
[urlhttp://www.youtube.com/watchv=Ai4te4daLZs&feature=related[/url] "My soul longs for the candle and the spices. If only you would pour me a cup of wine for Havdalah...My heart yearning, I shall lift up my eyes to g-d, who provides for my needs day and night."
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Unread postby AdvocatusDiaboli » Sun 26 Sep 2004, 09:57:28

You can be 100% certain that massive amounts of coal liquefaction plants WILL be built no matter what the enviromental consequences are.
It'll be either that or voluntarily cut back your economy. How likely is that?
The demand for oil is there and the majority of countries will be prepared to buil cl plants to supply it.
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Unread postby Aaron » Sun 26 Sep 2004, 10:49:49

IOW, look at China. It has huge coal reserves that are not meeting even the demand for Electrictiy simply because their are physical limits as to how much coal can be removed at any one time


Is this not the defining point?

Oil flows in it's natural state... you have to pick coal up.

It's not even apples and oranges...

It's apples & SUV's

No meaningful comparisons possible.

"It's not in the same ballpark, or even the same game. Hell, it ain't even the same sport."
The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt, but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise... economics is a form of brain damage.

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Sasol

Unread postby Optimist » Wed 29 Sep 2004, 15:59:02

The Sasol process has some potential value. In South Africa Sasol used to get government subsidies when the price of crude dropped below $16/barrel. Even allowing for a generous helping of fat built into that number, it is obvious that at the current price of crude, Sasol would be very competitive, some would even say hugely profitable (http://instrumentation.co.za/Article.AS ... ssueID=428).

The important consideration from a US point of view is that the Sasol process would reduce dependence on foreign oil. This would allow the US to send less money to the Middle East, so that less money ends up at Osama & co. HQ. We might even be able to get out of Iraq in this generation.

As far as the environment is concerned, Sasol diesel in very low in sulfur. In South Africa most of the sulfur in the coal ends up in the lungs of Sasol employees and their families, as it leaves the plant in the form of stinky H2S emmissions. A strict air quality board should be able to take care of that issue.

So, while the Sasol process won't reduce global warming, it does have some benefits. Right now it should be a huge priority for the US to at least diversify its sources of crude. Sasol could make Pennsylvania the new Saudi Arabia.
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Unread postby backstop » Wed 29 Sep 2004, 16:17:33

Optimist - Looks like you're still in denial. Your post ignores at least two of various salient issues that make Coal-liquefaction a non-starter in terms of resolving the interactive problems we face.

1/. America is going bust. The dollar's decline shows no sign of other countries being willing to lend the money for a crash-program in unsustainable energy supplies.

2/. Climate Destabilization is intensifying, with global climate damage costs rising exponentially to the point of impacting economic growth. As I stated above, coal liquefaction's heavily raised emissions per unit of energy delivered thus makes it entirely counter-productive to maintaining the economy.

If you can't face addressing these issues but would rather pretend that 'they don't count', all I can say is "Dream on"
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Unread postby Concerned » Wed 29 Sep 2004, 22:26:42

I say that coal to oil will be used there are two scenarios under which this will happen.

1. Continued growth oriented paradigm i.e. basically increased rates of energy consumption in total. Probably ending in nuclear war.

2. A power down type paradigm where people revert to a more sustained level of energy consumption using coal as a bridge to power down without a catastrophe. The biggest shift being advanced economically developed countries MASSIVELY reducing their energy consumption.

I would bet that option 1. is the route humans take. We're pretty smart but collectively about as dumb as batshit. Look at all the past wars, genocide of Jews, Armenians, and in Rwanda. Global poverty and trade inequity etc... etc...

These problems all have intelligent solutions but for some reason our base animal instincts seem to prevail more often than not.
"Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box."
-Italian Proverb
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Unread postby backstop » Thu 30 Sep 2004, 00:43:49

Concerned - You suggest that Coal liquifaction would be used "as a bridge to power down without catastrophe."

Could you explain why anyone should lend the US, say, $10Bn to develop the Sasol option, to the whole world's disbenefit and to the delay of investment in sustainable energies, when the US could perfectly well put those funds directly into a roughly equivalent production of Methanol produced from sustainable coppice woodlands ?

Could you also explain why any other nation should lift a finger to save the climate, on which America is utterly dependent, if America tries now to expand its fossil fuel emissions ?

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Sasol

Unread postby Optimist » Thu 30 Sep 2004, 15:39:13

backstop,
It would be neat if investors considered the environment before spending the dough. Unfortunately they are mainly concerned with making profits. So, at the current prices of crude (>$50/barrel) there would be no problem getting the necessary investment, whether from inside the US or from outside.

Methanol from woodlands? I have to plead ignorance. Can that really work? Do you have links or other info?

Of course the Sasol process does not provide sustainable energy. Even so, any alternative to our current exclusive dependence on crude for transportation should be welcomed. Once we have some alternatives it might even be possible to convince politicians that we don't need to sacrifice ourselves (and our high ideals) just to secure some oil from the madmen. As I see it, developing alternatives is the first step toward sustainable energy.
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Unread postby Permanently_Baffled » Fri 01 Oct 2004, 05:29:08

backstop wrote:PB - I'm having difficulty following what you mean.

If, say, £5Bn is invested in expanding coal production and developing Sasol plants for coal > liquid fuels, those funds wouldn't be going into sustainable Biofuels' establishment and conversion plants.

I've seen no data showing Sasol yield to be cost competitive with diesel in stationary usage, while Mitsubishi is already claiming this for their methanol product.

So at what point would investing in Sasol to allow us then to move to biofuels be an efficient strategy meteorologically or financially ?

Am I missing something here ?

regards,

Backstop


You are right Backstop, sorry I must of typed that without engaging my (rather small) brain :) . Of course diverting our efforts into methanol would be a far better idea than the coal liquidification.

I believe Whitecrap has some good links on methanol, it won't be able to support economic growth (we wouldn't want it to!) but it could support our essential industries like agriculture and distribution etc etc.

PB
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Unread postby backstop » Fri 01 Oct 2004, 12:53:20

Optimist - Re the worldwide potential of Methanol from Coppice Woodland, I've put a couple of large posts with links in the thread "Would electric vehicles really be so bad ?" (since Methanol Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles will potentially be the end-user).

I can't see your logic in thinking that building Sasol plants (with 20yr lifespan ?) is a step toward sustainable energy. In practice, just like for the last thirty years, it's yet another deferment by the fossil fuel industry.

Also, given that hurricane Ivan has just taken out, what was it, 2% of US annual oil production and 1.5% of annual gas production, it's surely an oversight to regard intensifying climate destabilization as merely an issue of environmental ideals, rather than a critical component of the problematique ?

If there is a case for fossil fuel conversion to oil, using what is called 'stranded gas' makes a lot more sense as far as I can see. This is the use of small isolated gas fields that don't justify piping to a city or dock, as a feedstock for methanol. If it's of interest you could have a hunt around in: www. methanol.org for details.

regards,

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Unread postby backstop » Fri 01 Oct 2004, 13:01:37

Sorry - I'll try again - www.methanol.org

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Unread postby small_steps » Fri 01 Oct 2004, 19:27:20

Has anyone seen numbers relating the amount of BTUs in the coal used in the process and the BTUs of the synthetic oil output?
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SASOL conversion

Unread postby Optimist » Mon 04 Oct 2004, 18:56:00

SASOL is apparently about 65% efficient (energy wise) in terms of solid to liquid conversion in South Africa, i.e. 100 BTU coal goes in and 65 BTU comes out as liquid products. Apart of liquid products the process also yields light gas (mainly methane, propylene and butylene, but also some ethane, ethylene and propylene), power, steam and ammonia. Depending on reactor conditions, liquid products vary between 42 and 76% of total hydrocarbon products, by mass. I guess the 65% efficiency would be when 76% of the total products are liquids.
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Unread postby backstop » Mon 04 Oct 2004, 21:38:44

Optimist - The figures you've found for the energy efficiency of Sasol's coal to oil conversion sound improbably high - are you sure they relate only to the oil's energy content and not to the energy content of the oil plus that of the various bi-products ?

Taking them as they stand, a 65% coal to oil energy efficiency implies a rise in carbon emissions per unit of energy delivered of :

100 / 65 = 1.5385

This indicates a 53.85% rise in carbon emissions per unit of energy delivered.

Taking the rule of thumb that fossil transport fuels have 2/3rds of the carbon emissions of coal per unit of energy delivered, replacing fossil transport fuels with Sasol oil will raise carbon emissions :

153.85 / 66.67 = 2.3076

This indicates a 130.76% rise in carbon emissions per unit of energy delivered by replacing fossil transport fuels with Sasol oil.

With these figures, whether any governments will sanction Sasol plants' construction now that Kyoto is back on track remains to be seen. What is predictable is that the company would face cogent customer resistance to its product.

Thus I'd say again, think very carefully before investing a dime or any more of your time in this patently inappropriate technology. You can do better elsewhere . . .

regards,

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SASOL

Unread postby Optimist » Tue 05 Oct 2004, 13:11:41

backstop,
You are overestimating the effect of the SASOL process on carbon emissions. First, you misinterpret the 65% number. Note that there are some light gas products which would either be used for energy (increasing the 65% recovery to a higher number) or converted into plastic, in which case they would not end up as CO2.

Second, you wrongly add the 2/3rds to this. Once you have converted coal into liquid products it is more or less identical to products from crude. It would have the same efficiency as crude based products (not 1/3 less).

Kyoto is a noble goal and an important first step. But there are other, more important pollutants in fuel, which IMHO should be addressed first, partly because it is easier to do than reducing CO2. Diesel produced by SASOL has extremely low levels of sulfur, as I have noted earlier. (You can go to http://www.scienceinafrica.co.za/2002/march/turbo.htm for an undiluted sales pitch.)

I am under no illusion that SASOL is going to save the earth, but I think it would provide the US with some important advantages, including less $$$ to the Middle East. I would like to see somebody look into using the SASOL process to produce fuel from a renewable feedstock. Regrettably that has not yet happened, at least as far as my knowledge goes.
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Unread postby Sololeum » Tue 05 Oct 2004, 15:31:52

G'Day Optimist and Backstop,

From my knowledge of pyrolysis the 65% efficiency looks right - taking all products into account.

That is at the end of the day you loose 35% of total energy. Coal is not really good for conversions as the hydrogen to carbon ratio in coal is low and extra hydrogen needs to be made and used to reformulate the end product to give it more bang.

In an energy starved world I don't think that people will want to dissipate this 35% into the atmosphere.

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ersatz

Unread postby duff_beer_dragon » Tue 05 Oct 2004, 17:51:54

At school they told us that Nazi Germany was heavily into using 'ersatz' oil, towards the end of the war of course, maybe there is information on it there, in files, in history books......
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SASOL

Unread postby Optimist » Tue 05 Oct 2004, 20:41:14

Sololeum,
Thanks for confirming the 65% number. My source would indicate 65% for liquid products only, but it could be wrong.

You are right, sort of, about wasting 35% of the input energy. However, as I have stated before, the decision to invest will be based on profit, everything else being an afterthought. At some point ($16/barrel?$50/barrel? $70/barrel? $100/barrel?) coal is going to be competitive, regardless of all other factors.

It would appear that the US Department of Energy considers the SASOL process a useful part of an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle system that would increase energy efficiency and reduce the US dependence on foreign oil ( http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/br ... gccbro.pdf and http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/ot ... ical21.pdf).

More good news: It appears somebody is looking into using the SASOL process using a renewable feedstock ( http://www.ecn.nl/docs/library/report/2004/c04001.pdf). They claim that above $56/barrel they can be competitive. Any bets on how long it will take oil to hit $56?

duff_beer_dragon,
I guess the Nazi's had to figure out a way to keep the country moving when they could not import oil. Kinda like what is going to happen when peakoil occurs...
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F-T Fuels

Unread postby staffhorse » Fri 15 Oct 2004, 14:57:19

My question is "will or can PEAK OIL be delayed by the use of Coal based Fischer-Tropsch liquid fuels"? If so, how long? 10 years? or is it more?

Another question. What should we do if we get a 10 year pass on PEAK OIL.

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Unread postby AdvocatusDiaboli » Sun 17 Oct 2004, 06:30:53

My question is "will or can PEAK OIL be delayed by the use of Coal based Fischer-Tropsch liquid fuels"? If so, how long? 10 years? or is it more?


That is the wrong question. The probable scenario goes like this: The peak will happen, then there'll be an energy crisis, then companies launch massive CTL programs and anywhere between 7 and 15 years post peak we'll have enough oil again - made from coal. The investments that have to be made every year are enormous - I calculated them to be roughly between 200 and 300 billion dollars.
This is, however, only about 0.5% of world GDP.
There will, of course, be initial bottlenecks especially in the area of qualified personnel.
The idea that "we won't have enough money to build this" comes from people who have little understanding of economics. If these investments are profitable, they WILL be made, the market will see to that. The problem are the long lead times in construction and the period until companies realize what's going on and that CTL is indeed profitable in the long run.
SASOL gives a figure of a cost of $20 per barrel (at the current unfavorable exchange rates). They use only very crappy coal that is of little use for anything else. The cost of the coal feedstock is about $8 per barrel, so a tripling in the price of the feedstock would still leave a barrel price of $36, which is affordable.
The companies that are going to build coal-to-liquid plants are likely going to be mostly the classic oil companies, as they have knowhow in the petrochemical area and also a dire need to find something to replace their aging business (conventional crude).
Nevertheless there are huge possibilities for companies like SASOL (SSL) or Headwater(HDWR), especially in licensing their technology.
I'm invested in both.
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