From Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" to heated Congressional debates about federal tax incentives for new alternative fuels, the issue of coal's place in supplying America's energy and fuel needs has taken on added importance in recent months.
A research institute at the University of Kentucky, though, has been exploring ways to increase the efficiency of converting coal to liquid fuel well in advance of national discussions of the process.
At the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), Burt Davis is refining the process to identify ways to reduce or capture carbon dioxide generated by the Fischer-Tropsch method of converting coal to diesel and other products, such as paraffin and chemicals for making plastics.
"Weve been doing Fischer-Tropsch research for 15 years. In the last five years, interest in general has picked up," particularly by private companies," says Davis, the centers associate director and its chief researcher on clean fuels.
"Weve done testing for 25 companies, both large petroleum companies and small startup companies," he says.
"North America is one of the worlds largest coal-reserve regions. Its petroleum is declining, but coal is still the largest resource. If the United States is to become independent from foreign sources of petroleum, it has to make it from oil shale, coal or both.
We have about equal amounts of reserves of oil shale and coal, at the current rate of usage, to be able to generate petroleum substitutes for the United States for the next 200 years," Davis says.
"The dominant reason petroleum is what we use today is, its the most efficient (fuel)," Davis notes. "Its a matter of time, as I see it, until the two (petroleum efficiency and coal-to-liquid fuel efficiency) become equal."
That efficiency equality will result from the continuing decline of available petroleum and the increased efficiPage: 1 2 Related medicine news :1
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