Coal as a Source of Automotive Fuels

  • E. L. Clark


The conversion of coal to fuels for internal combustion engines was first implemented on a commercial scale nearly fifty years ago. Some thirty years ago, during World War II, over 100,000 barrels per day of high octane fuels were produced from coal in Germany. Cognizant of these historical data, EDRA’s Fossil Energy Program includes a major effort to produce transportation fuels from coal.

Coal liquefaction projects currently in the bench-scale and pilot plant stages are aimed at producing primary liquid products at maximum through put and minimum cost. Samples of these products are currently being supplied to bench-scale refining units for determining the effectiveness of state-of-the-art refinery processes to produce synthetic crude oils and specification transportation fuels. Since coal-derived liquids will be small in volume for some years compared to those from petroleum, synthetic crude oils amenable to refinery processing will provide the first introduction to actual use of coal-derived automotive fuels. In addition, as larger quantities of coal-derived liquids become available in 1977 and 1978, refining studies now in progress will provide the techniques for the preparation of sizable samples of transportation fuels for large-scale end-use testing.

Coal gasification projects now in progress are expected to lower the cost of preparing synthesis gas from coal. This will stimulate the production of motor fuels using processes similar to those used now to produce motor gasoline in South Africa. Improved catalysts for such processes are under development.

Many technical and logistic problems are still to be solved before coal-derived automotive fuels become a reality. Large increases in coal production will be necessary and their impact on the economy are under study. The rate of process development and new plant construction and design will depend on Governmental action. There will be differences between petroleum gasolines and those derived from coal. The latter will probably have higher nitrogen content and greater aromaticity with attendant environmental problems. Solution of these will require continuing cooperation between ERDA and the automotive industry.


Liquid Fuel Transportation Fuel Coal Liquefaction Automotive Fuel Coal Hydrogenation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. L. Clark
    • 1
  1. 1.Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA)USA

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