Most of us have a superficial idea of what kind of stuff coal is, though it is no longer common in our homes. We also recall diverse lists of things made from coal — fertilizers, explosives, plastics, inks, paints, perfumes and aspirin — which blur the image of coal as something black and inflexible and, if we care to think, show that the product that emerges at the pit-head is merely a starting point. For generations visionaries have made pleas for coal to be used in more thoughtful ways, and since 1945 research into coal utilization has grown increasingly swiftly until we now stand on the brink of the most exciting period in man’s energy history. Only now, it seems, can we view the scene with anything like unfettered vision. Ahead lies a vista devoid of any particular energy crises, provided man loses no time in making more careful use of the precious carbon and hydrogen at his disposal.
KeywordsCombustion Petroleum Steam Aspirin Pyrolysis
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