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PeakOil is You

Coal to Liquid Fuels (merged)

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Unread postby MonteQuest » Wed 29 Jun 2005, 00:42:15

Montequest wrote:1. What are the state and value of US coal reserves?

Total proven world reserves of coal are estimated to total almost one trillion tons and are projected to last over 200 years at current rates of consumption. The US has about 250 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves. According to the EIA figures, we can see that we have 255 years of coal remaining in the year 2000 given our current rate of consumption. That prediction assumes equal use of all grades of coal, from anthracite to lignite. Population growth alone reduces the calculated lifetime to some 90-120 years. However, if we look back in history, we see that there were 300 years of coal reserves in 1988, 1000 years reserves in 1904, and 10,000 years reserves in 1868! As each year goes by, our coal consumption increases and we see that the projection becomes meaningless. And if we suddenly move to a bigger reliance on coal, and coal liquidfaction for gas, then this estimate would surely drop dramatically.

Coal peak projections:
Hubbert Model Peak 2032
EIA, Annual Energy Outlook 2004 Peak 2060
Flat gas consumption and greater coal consumption Peak 2053
Flat gas consumption and synfuels from coal to replace oil Peak 2035

http://www.energyedge.net/The_Coal_Story.pdf

2. What are the possibilities of turning a petroeconomy to a coal economy?

Large scale applications of the Fischer-Tropsch process (coal to petro) have existed in only a few countries like Germany during WWII, and South Africa since the 1960s. The process is 2:1, coal to motor fuel, approximately. Hydrogen production would require an even greater consumption of coal. From what I have read on the subject so far, coal liquefaction would seem to be regarded as a medium to long term prospect for any significant energy production. The lead time to ramp up for any significant production is years, if not decades away. Liquid Coal http://www.peakoil.com/fortopic280.html


3. Can this extend the energy Peak? If so how long?

How long? And to what end? Long enough to make the consequences of peak oil even more dire? There is no techno-fix or energy fix to the peak oil problem. It is one of world view, and exponential growth in a finite world. The above peak projections show that coal will not give us much more time.

4. What are the economic ramifications?

Not sure. To date, where coal liquefaction technology has developed, pure economics have been a secondary consideration. Hitler used it to wage war and South Africa used it to offset the consequences of apartheid.

5. What are the Political ramifications?

Not sure here either. Increased use of coal would contribute to global warming on an unknown scale. The ravage of the environment to strip the coal would increase especially given the mindset of the current administration.
New coal plants bury 'Kyoto'
The official treaty to curb greenhouse-gas emissions hasn't gone into effect yet and already three countries are planning to build nearly 850 new coal-fired plants, which would pump up to five times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce.

http://www.energybulletin.net/3768.html

Coal - What are the ramifications?
http://www.peakoil.com/fortopic3722.html+gasification
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Unread postby MD » Wed 29 Jun 2005, 00:48:51

There is no question, that when faced with desperate energy needs, all environemental considerations will be brushed aside.

We will make coal oil, a lot of it, more than the planet can tolerate. The peak oil environmentalists know this, consciously or subconsciously. If you want to know who they are, look at the doomers who seem eager for depression and/or dieoff. Most of them aren't nut cases (although they are made to feel they are). They just want to save the planet.
Stop filling dumpsters, as much as you possibly can, and everything will get better.

Just think it through.
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Craig Hatfield, Ph.D. on Coal Liquifaction:

Unread postby Dvanharn » Wed 29 Jun 2005, 00:54:29

Hi John - I enjoy your cornucopian enthusiasm - it's always a challenge to try to evaluate your frequent challenges to the doomers. Here's the best I can do with a minimal period to research for coal liquifaction - even Heinberg's first book only gives it cursory coverage. This quote is from Dr. Hatfield's seminal paper on peak oil probabilities from 1997. I agree that it can be a viable component of future liquid fuel supply, but I'm not sure that it can be significant enough to bail us out.

Because the United States has larger coal reserves than any other country, coal liquefaction has been suggested as a source of synthetic oil. As is true in the cases of oil shale and tar sands, quantitative consideration of the total probable contribution of coal liquefaction to our fluid fuel supply tends to temper enthusiasm.

If we assume that a ton of coal will yield 5.5 barrels of liquid fuel (11), and that the United States could mine coal for liquefaction at a rate sufficient to replace 2.6 billion barrels of oil per year (which is only 10% of global oil consumption for 1996), then we would liquefy annually an amount of coal approximately half as great as the total amount mined annually in the United States during the 1990s. This would require a roughly 50% increase in rate of United States coal mining. If we ignore the environmental concerns associated with such great expansion of coal mining and consider only the liquefaction facilities required, the cost would be many tens of billions of dollars. Such facilities would have to liquefy several dozens of times more coal annually than do the current South African coal liquefaction plants.

Is the United States or any other country capable of adhering to a commitment to such gigantic long-term investment regardless of short-term fluctuations in the price of oil? During the 1980s, when the price of oil was declining, synthetic fuels projects were abandoned as rapidly as they had been initiated during the 1970s. Development of substitutes for even a small fraction of our conventional petroleum consumption is a gigantic undertaking that is guaranteed to fail if it can be abandoned in response to short-term changes in the price of oil.

Even if society commits itself to the staggering capital investment necessary for oil from coal to replace the coming decline in conventional oil production, such an approach would rapidly deplete coal reserves and thus would be only a very temporary solution to the problem. If we ignore recent downward revisions in coal reserve estimates and fancifully assume that the United States has a 300-year-supply of producible coal at current coal consumption rate, then a mere 4% per year growth in consumption rate will reduce the 300-year-reserve to a 64-year-supply (with the unrealistic assumption that coal production rate could continue to grow until depletion of the resource).


Hatfield's 1997 paper on peak oil

The hubbert.mines.edu website where the above link is located, hasn't been updated since 2001, and Hatfield, who was an emeritus professor of geology at the University of Toledo, seems to have disappeared after his 1997 paper, which is referred to many, many times in peak oil lore on the web.

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Unread postby I_Like_Plants » Wed 29 Jun 2005, 03:56:40

Making oil from coal is negative-return, dirty as hell, and has only been used in emergency circumstances, like the Germans in WWII when they had nothing else and were fighting the defensive end game. It won't work and for the Earth that's a good thing!
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Unread postby Doly » Wed 29 Jun 2005, 03:58:20

Liquefying coal isn't cheap oil. If things get to the point that people seriously consider it, we're in deep shit already.
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Re: Synthetic oil

Unread postby Googolplex » Wed 29 Jun 2005, 05:51:35

JohnDenver wrote:2) Clearly, these new synthetic liquids are going to be called "oil". They are chemically identical to oil products, and they do the same jobs as oil products. They will also be mixed together with oil products in the refining step. It's reallly pointless to separate the two.


I suppose you do have a point there, but then you can't seperate coal and oil consumption anymore either don't forget, and you then also need to factor in the significant energy loss from the liquification process itself as well, further constraining supplies.

Also, coal production is significantly lower then oil production, and does not have as extensive a world production and distrobution system as oil does (it is extensive of course, it just couldn't make up for oil's without lots of energy input to expand it). Sure it could be turned into oil first, then distributed through that system, but you need to get all that coal to liquification plants before that, and the current oil distribution would have to adapt to new sources in new locations on the globe. After all, major oil centers are rarely major coal centers, so either you need to move the coal, or move the distrobution network.

Will it be done? Probably, but its hard to imagine that it will make all that much difference.

Also see: http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/Sec ... #anchor_89
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Unread postby DriveElectric » Wed 29 Jun 2005, 07:53:13

I_Like_Plants wrote:Making oil from coal is negative-return,


That concept needs to be stamped out of the collective vocabulary here.
Just about EVERY energy process results in less energy than the primary source contained. Who the phuck cares !!! We do it all the time.

The obvious tradeoff is a barrel of liquid fuel instead of coal.
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Unread postby Antimatter » Wed 29 Jun 2005, 10:08:14

Thermal efficiency of the process is around 65%, so its much better than the power plant running your computer! :wink:
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Unread postby MD » Wed 29 Jun 2005, 12:27:21

DriveElectric wrote:
I_Like_Plants wrote:Making oil from coal is negative-return,


That concept needs to be stamped out of the collective vocabulary here.
Just about EVERY energy process results in less energy than the primary source contained. Who the phuck cares !!! We do it all the time.

The obvious tradeoff is a barrel of liquid fuel instead of coal.

If you find and energy transfer process that has a positive return, run to your nearest patent office with your submission so it can be placed along side all the other perpetual motion machines that don't work.
Stop filling dumpsters, as much as you possibly can, and everything will get better.

Just think it through.
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35 Billion CuFt/yr of Syngas from Coal

Unread postby donshan » Wed 02 Nov 2005, 15:15:20

I noted this story today that a project has started to produce 35 Billion ( with a B!) Cu.Ft per year of pipeline quality natural gas in Illinois. No mention of what they do with the CO2. Detailed story by searching on "Peabody Energy at:

http://www.prnewswire.com/


ST. LOUIS, Nov. 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Peabody Energy today announced
that it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with ArcLight Capital
Partners, LLC to advance project development of a commercial-scale coal
gasification project in Illinois that would transform coal into pipeline-
quality synthetic natural gas. The initial project would be designed with
ConocoPhillips "E-Gas(TM)" Technology, featuring an oxygen-blown gasification
system. ConocoPhillips and Fluor have begun preliminary engineering design
work for the project.
The plant would be one of the largest coal-to-natural-gas plants in the
United States and would be sited in Illinois. Peabody would develop a coal
mine to fuel the plant using its Illinois Basin reserves, and ArcLight,
through an affiliate, would contribute its Illinois-related coal-to-natural-
gas development assets.
The project would require at least 3 million tons of coal per year to fuel
two gasifier trains that could produce more than 35 billion cubic feet of
synthetic natural gas.
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Re: 35 Billion CuFt/yr of Syngas from Coal

Unread postby gnm » Wed 02 Nov 2005, 15:36:48

Anythings good but keep in mind that would represent about .1% of current US annual nat. gas usage... (22 Trillion Cubic feet - US only)

8O Its really amazing when you think about the sheer volume of natural gas used!

-G
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Re: 35 Billion CuFt/yr of Syngas from Coal

Unread postby Spideykid » Wed 02 Nov 2005, 15:46:44

Woot and we can use that coal up even faster.
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Re: 35 Billion CuFt/yr of Syngas from Coal

Unread postby gnm » Wed 02 Nov 2005, 15:57:15

:lol: I know! Lets make syngas from coal and then pipe it to California so they can burn it to make "green" electricity from clean natural gas! [smilie=BangHead.gif]

:-x
sorta like all thier clean electricity from coal plants in Nevada....

-G
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Re: 35 Billion CuFt/yr of Syngas from Coal

Unread postby Starvid » Wed 02 Nov 2005, 19:17:45

Aaargh. We do Not repeat NOT need more non liquid fossil fuels. :-x

We are frying already. :cry:
Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
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Re: 35 Billion CuFt/yr of Syngas from Coal

Unread postby nth » Wed 02 Nov 2005, 19:47:00

gnm wrote:Anythings good but keep in mind that would represent about .1% of current US annual nat. gas usage... (22 Trillion Cubic feet - US only)

8O Its really amazing when you think about the sheer volume of natural gas used!

-G


Put it another way, US coal production need to double over what is currently being produced.

US only has 19.4Billion tons of recoverable coal in active mines.
There are about 275+Billion tons of recoverable coal not in active mines.
Then, there are projected 1.7 trillion tons of recoverable coal not in active mines.
Finally, over 3.9trillion tons of future recoverable coal estimated in US.

19.4Billion tons are from industry data.
275Billion tons are a combination of industry and government data.
1.7Trillion tons based on geologists' estimate.
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Coal-to-liquids back-of-the-envelope calculation

Unread postby mattduke » Thu 23 Feb 2006, 02:28:00

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Re: Coal-to-liquids back-of-the-envelope calculation

Unread postby backstop » Thu 23 Feb 2006, 07:39:07

Mattduke -

I wonder if you'd agree that the author really needs a larger envelope ?

I'm not a specialist in coal refinement, but it seems pretty clear that his cost-projections are missing some pretty basic components, and seriously undervaluing others.

On his b-o-e ratio, a 25 mbbls/day oil-shortfall in 2020 sets a new coal requirement of 10 MTs/day.

His price for coal of $30/tonne seems to me more than optimistic even in the present market, let alone in building demand for an extra 10 MT per day of supply.

To put that amount in perspective, it can be viewed as:

10MT x 9mwhrs/T x 33% conversion efficiency to power = 29.7 million mwhrs.

Divided by 24 hrs it equals 1,237.5 GW of continuous power supply which, at British use-standards, would serve about 1.85Bn people.

Given that China is already so stretched for coal supply that it is buying up US stocks that used to serve domestic users, and world markets are steadily tightening, it is very hard to see where an extra 10MT/day are going to appear from.

In addition to which, given that we've long since had the easy coal, new mining capacity would not merely require massive capital investment, but that investment would be larger per tonne of output than previously.

The paper simply overlooks both that huge investment requirement and the impact on net costs to society of escalating global coal prices.

Another area wholly excluded from the envelope is that of predictable carbon emissions which, from the required 3.65 BnTs coal per year, would be absolutely immense.

The fact that our present global carbon emissions are around 7.0 Bn Ts, and we need to cut those by over 67% just to stop adding to the current 35% excess CO2 in the atmosphere, puts any such increase in coal-usage in its prime context.

There is of course the possibility of sequestering CO2 from the refineries into depleted oil wells and porous bedrock, where such geology is available, and when a global "Cap, Share & Trade" treaty is signed to provide a sufficient price incentive for that sequestration.

Proponents of this option are currently claiming that it only uses one quarter of the energy produced - i.e. for an energy yield of 10 you need a fuel input of 13.33 if the carbon is to be sequestered . . . . i.e. a 33% increase in coal production, transport and processing, with its accompanying capital and operating costs . .

The other major shortcoming of the envelope looks to me to be its "snapshot" perspective, that is a static target of 25 mboe in 15 years, when in fact we face an ongoing depletion after that date.

No doubt others may revise my b-o-e figures above, and address some of the further shortcomings of the "Financial Sense" paper, but for me these points are enough to confirm that America can neither fund such an option nor afford it climatically, and no other known country has a sufficient interest in keeping US indulgence afloat.

regards,

Backstop
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Gas From Coal in the UK??

Unread postby Brasso » Thu 02 Mar 2006, 08:46:42

I'm in the UK (Hi Leaf), and I'm currently considering refitting the house for more Peak-friendly heating. Top choice seems to be a coal/ wood burning stove with back boiler for the radiators/ hot water. The main problem here is that I'm in a smokeless zone!!

Gas is obviously out (unless anyone can correct me here)

Geothermal seems good, provided the electric supply is constant...!

But someone has just thrown a spanner in the works. Is it likely that the UK will start to produce coal from the huge reserves of coal it has (assuming the pits are reopened, etc, etc). And if so, would this provide a substitute for natural gas??

I'm not too optimistic about Britain's energy future, but all I'm asking is what do people think is the most likely route that will be taken?

If you were in the UK and had to pick an energy source for heating for the next 10-20 years, which would you pick??
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Re: Gas From Coal in the UK??

Unread postby Cran » Thu 02 Mar 2006, 10:15:57

If you were in the UK and had to pick an energy source for heating for the next 10-20 years, which would you pick??


Spain! 8)
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Re: Gas From Coal in the UK??

Unread postby backstop » Thu 02 Mar 2006, 12:04:35

Brasso -

Welcome to the site -

For heating in the UK wood is your best choice if you've got local access to it.

It would be worth checking your council re smokeless zone rules - some are already exempting wood used in an efficient stove, and more will do so.

A sustainable local wood supply that is affordable is the key - the local garage here in the Welsh Marches can't keep up with demand for bagged half-dry logs at £3.50 for 10kgs, i.e. £350 /tonne, which is absurdly expensive.

£50 /T delivered is more like it, and in a 70% efficient stove will give:

5,000 kwhrs (per tonne) x 70% for 5000p = 1.43p per kwh for fuel costs.

regards,

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