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An Inconvenient Truth-Coal to Liquid

ency of coal-to-liquid fuel that results from researchers efforts, he says.

Rodney Andrews, the centers acting director, says CAERs focus places the university among the leaders of researchers seeking fuels to provide energy independence.

"Were looking at new catalyst systems and new process systems to make the process be more efficient (and) be more effective, and to better control what products are made," Andrews says.

Since it opened in 1977, CAER has performed research seeking cost-effective, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly ways to use coal and carbon.

However, the low cost of oil and gasoline discouraged energy companies from seeking alternative fuels. As the cost of oil and gasoline has risen to record levels in the last few years, interest in alternative fuels has emerged, generating renewed interest in ongoing research in processes such as coal-to-liquid.

UK is one of several universities most situated in states with large coal reserves engaged in research to discover the best ways to convert coal to liquid.

"One of the concerns coming out right now is CO2 emissions. When you convert carbon-rich coal into a more hydrogen-rich diesel fuel, you produce carbon dioxide. You dont want to produce any more than you have to," Andrews says.

Andrews says UK researchers are considering ways to capture carbon dioxide for injection into oil wells to increase pressure and reduce the costs of pumping petroleum from existing American reserves. Such methods of carbon dioxide sequestration also trim the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment.

Andrews notes the process which was based on formulas developed by two German chemists in the 1920s is already proven to be successful, both scientifically and commercially.

"Its been used in South Africa for several decades," Andrews says.


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