Liquid Coal Quietly Becoming a Reality?
Liquid coal has been debated hotly for years. American energy companies tend to love coal because the United States has the most coal reserves of any region in the world. Some scientists and many environmentalists dislike coal because it has historically been the dirtiest means of generating energy. Liquid coal processing companies explain that this new process is entirely different from traditional coal plants that burn coal to evaporate water. Essentially the liquid coal process subjects large quantities of coal to heat and a catalytic acid solution which breaks down the ingredients of the coal, thereby creating a carbonaceous fluid which can be used in combustion engines, quite similarly to oil.
We are not scientists at the Sundance Channel but liquid coal does seem like an awful lot of effort to spend on creating oil. However, it does seem reasonable to suggest that the coal liquefaction process could conceivably contain pollution emissions if it were produced in a self-contained space. This does beg the question of whether America as a society wants to use carbon-based oil in its vehicles, whether it comes from good ‘ol American coal or Middle-east crude. Hydrogen fuel is nice because when it is actively used in a vehicle or a fuel cell, there are no emissions. Perhaps coal could be used to produce hydrogen fuel?
There is an incredibly detailed but useful explanation of coal liquefaction found here. [www.patentdigi.com]
Now that you know some of the nuts and bolts of liquid coal manufacturing, you can understand why it is such a hotly contested issue among scientists, environmentalists, energy company lobbyists and political parties in America. The energy companies are going ahead with new coal liquefaction plants whether or not the government subsidizes the energy. So, short of a complete ban, America will have a lot of liquid coal in the future.