Energy 2.0

Emerging Tech- Coal to Liquid\Gas CTL\G

Posted on: April 29, 2008

The coal-to-gas (CTG)  conversion process uses a new catalyst that lowers the heat needed and therefore the energy loss from conversion of coal to natural gas. The  several advantages of the process:

Produces methane in a single step and in a single reactor

  • Pipeline grade product
  • No need for external water gas shift reactor
  • No need for external methanation reactor
  • Produces CO2 as a valuable sequestration-ready byproduct

Significantly reduces operating temperature

  • Lower cost reactor components
  • Lower maintenance costs and higher reliability
  • Eliminates costly high temperature cooling

Utilizes steam methanation

  • Eliminates costly air separation plant

High efficiency

  • 65% overall efficiency
  • Thermally neutral reaction process
  • No need for integrated power plant

The price of oil has gotten so high that lots of talented people with entrepreneurial streaks are coming up with cheaper ways to get liquid and gaseous fuel from coal.

Even if the plants that convert coal to liquid and gaseous fuels can be made to be carbon-neutral at low cost a shift to coal on a scale sufficient to increase liquid fuels production would still lead to higher CO2 emissions. The liquids would get burned in vehicles and vehicle consumption of hydrocarbon liquids would rise.

Advances in battery technology show the most promise for reducing both conventional pollutant emissions and CO2 emissions. First off, cheap and high energy density batteries would lower the cost of hybrids. That would increase efficiency of burning liquid fuels and therefore reduce emissions. Also, batteries will enable a migration toward use of electricity to charge up vehicles. Then stationary power plants – whose emissions are far eaiser to reduce – will supply an increasing fraction of all energy used in transportation.

The migration to pluggable hybrids and pure electric vehicles will allow nuclear, solar, and wind to provide power for transportation. Also, coal-burning electric plants could in theory be made to have zero emissions. Whether the cost of zero emissions coal will ever compete with nuclear, wind, and future cheaper photovoltaics remains to be seen.

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