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Converting coal into oil/gasoline?

I've been reading on the "Karrick Process", and it's a way to make oil from coal. The way I understand it, it's pretty efficient too. Since oil prices are rising daily, at an alarming rate with no reason, why don't we start converting the coal, and make the Middle East feel like we don't need them anymore, they lower their prices to let's say half of what they are today, and we either use the plants at a small rate, or just leave them until prices go up again?

The greatest part: converting coal to gasoline results in more power and an average of 20% increase in fuel-efficiency.


posted by  chris_knows

It's too late for me to look this up now, but I'll check it out when I get a chance. I'm just thinking here though, although you're somehow getting 20% greater fuel efficiency, I'm guessing when you add all of the energy it must take to convert coal to gas that the overall process is incredibly inefficient. Not to mention that coal is pretty dirty.

Also, if we do this to force the middle east to lower their rates on oil, the far east will raise their prices for coal (demand would REALLY skyrocket).

posted by  giant016

Yeah, but the known coal supply in the U.S. accounts for 26% of all coal in the world, which would be sufficient for hundreds of years. I don't know about efficiency, but China's recently started adopting it (the process is not new, it's been around for over 70 years, and can apparently (I don't know if anyone can prove that) keep costs around $40 a barrel.

posted by  chris_knows

That is so weird, I'm currently reading a novel from 1979, called "The Formula". Its about a cop who's ex-cop-friend gets murdered and he investigates etc etc, but it goes back to some big conspiracy about the Germans making synthetic fuel during WW2 and having a secret formula etc etc.

Anyway, the point is, I was wondering how true it was and I haven't heard anything about this until you just mentioned it.

posted by  Mathew

Now I'm not going to pretend to know alot about this, because I don't, but surely it's still a source that's going to see us in the same situation in years to come? If it's just a cost thing, then fair enough, but if it's an environmental thing, surely it'll never work because of pollution and the availability of the coal in the first place?

posted by  Cliffy

No, it makes gas cheaper than it is today by about half, and there's plenty of coal. The reason that we probably aren't doing it is because of the environmental problems; it apparently releases lots of CO2. In the article below, it says that the plants themselves are expensive to build, but technology is advancing, and it's becoming more efficient, as it says in the second quote, both from the site: http://news.mongabay.com/2006/0816-wsj.html
The growing use of coal energy source, combined with concerns over climate change, is fueling the push for cleaner ways to produce energy from coal. Even the chairman of Shell has called for green coal technologies to fight global warming.

posted by  chris_knows

Thats not a bad idea. Never heard of this before, on paper it looks good but you never know how things will actually go in real life. What about ethanol 100, i hear that will replace gasoline at some point before hydrogen power takes over. Many sources can be used to create e100 but i guess it is costly to produce pure ethanol. But that would give the boys in the middle east a run for their money, plus its alot more effiecent than gasoline.:smoke:

posted by  speeder

Still won't completely solve the astronomical prices of petrol we have to fork out, bear in mind that most of this is due to the taxes our government have slapped on to get money in. 96p/litre is rediculous and it's only gonna rise before christmas, it's not even economical to drive around in a 1.3l anymore!! Things look a bit brighter with diesels as you can run the engine on biodiesel or straight vegetable oil.

posted by  fudge

Yeah, like 2/3 of what you guys pay goes to taxes. In Canada I believe it's about 50%. Fuel prices are probably going to drop back down to like $80 a barrel soon, but that's still phenomenally high. There's some stupid law in California that doesn't allow diesel cars because they release too much sulfur dioxide, so most car manufacturers don't import that many diesel cars in the U.S./Canada (I think we only have the Golf TDI and maybe one other model).

I can't see ethanol replacing fossil fuels unless we either get really desperate or the technology improves. The problem is that first of all, we don't have enough to grow. Right now (in the U.S.), ethanol is highly subsidized (the government is really pushing for it--no other fuel has ever required subsidizing), and farmers can make more money off of it, so about 1/4 of all U.S. corn crops this year have been used for ethanol, causing prices for food to go up, hurting the middle/lower classes. Same thing is happening in Mexico, where people have been protesting. Ethanol from corn is inefficient, and ends up polluting more than it saves through soil erosion, chemicals like insecticides, etc. Also, ethanol costs about 4 times gasoline to produce, but it's selling for less because of the government subsidies. Also, cars get worse fuel efficiency; with E85, you will get about 25% less MPG than pure gasoline, which also offsets the price.

Ethanol could replace fossil fuels, but definitely not with the technology available today. Even if every single crop was used for ethanol (in the U.S.), that would only be enough for 4% of U.S. energy needs.

posted by  chris_knows

Why arent we converting water into hydrogen/oxygen and using hydrogen to power everything for the rest of time?

posted by  nighthawk

I never knew that, I always thought that ethanol was the answer to our problems. Hopefully the technology of making e100 improves quickly.:smoke:

posted by  speeder

Ethanol has a higher octane rating than regular petrol, thats why more and more teams in motorsport are using this fuel. The pollution is significantly less than petrol as alcohols burns more cleanly, I also don't think it'll replace fossil fuels but it's a start.

There are many other options in the future, I for sure would love to drive a TZero and smoke a Ferrari in a drag race with an electric car.

posted by  fudge

Beating a Ferrari would feel good until it catches up to you and guns the amazing gasoline engine :laughing:.

posted by  chris_knows

Bullsh*t. With the exception of the first half of the first sentence, all you're doing is repeating propaganda.

1. Racing teams are not using ethanol unless the rules of the series specifically call for it or allow it's use along with other modifications to give their car a competitive edge. Besides, several racing series have been using methanol (a close brother to ethanol) for years.

2. Some pollutants are less, some are more. There are certainly less hydrocarbons but there is about twice as much carbon dioxide produced for an engine at the same power level. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and is considered by many to be the worst tailpipe pollutant because it's the hardest to control.

3. Producing ethanol is nothing more than a feel good project for governments, politicians and environmental do-gooders. Because of the amount of energy required to produce and transport ethanol, it has about a 3% efficiency level. For those of you who are in denial, that means that for every gallon of ethanol produced and pumped into a gas tank, it requires the equivalent of .97 gallons of ethanol to produce it. And because it contains less power potential than gasoline, you end up using about 15-20% more. What a wonderful tradeoff. Let's also not forget how it affects (raises) the price of any type of food that uses corn, including livestock that eats it.

Bottom line is that for transportation, ethanol is nothing more than a pipe dream. If the US really was serious about energy independence, or at least lower dependence, the liberals and the greenies would not block every attempt to build new nuclear power plants. Then fossil fuels would only need to be used for transportation, instead of heating our homes, businesses and producing ethanol. Nuclear power may even set the stage to allow electric cars make sense under certain circumstances.

posted by  vwhobo

And in the ALMS, BTCC and British GT; teams are using bio-ethanol. I guess the advantage would be to run a higher compression but with around 20% less fuel mileage they would have to carry more fuel than the gasoline cars which would put them at a disadvantage at the start of the race. I'm well aware that some series such as Champ Cars have been using methanol for years but isn't the stuff toxic and burns invisibly in daylight? I remembered seeing a pit incident a few years ago where a pit crew had methanol splashed over him and he was frantickly rolling around -thing is you couldn't see the flame.

Some argue that global warming is bullsh*t and that its a natural process, that in itself is yet to be proven. Some of the carbon dioxide is offset by the photosynthesis from the crop grown whereas the impurities you get from crude oil contributes to smog, much more harmful to humans.

Producing ethanol costs more but the price of fuel sold to us is dictated more in the taxes slapped on top. As I said it's not a fuel to replace normal petrol but its an alternative which has it's advantages in terms of performance. And as we're getting blatantly ripped off in petrol, we need to look for more alternatives.

posted by  fudge

Okay, I'll play your silly game.

1. Yes methanol burns with no discernable color in daylight. Same as ethanol. What's your point?

2. Global warming is a fact. It happens every thousand or so years. The debate among the non-chicken little crowd is how much, if at all, the human race is contributing. I say not much. It’s the liberals and greenies who are making it an issue, I just mentioned the fact.

3. I believe you are in the UK based on your use of the word petrol. Your petrol is taxed at a much higher rate than ours, while diesel and LPG is subsidized with that money. That's part of your semi-socialist economy. In the states, while gasoline is fairly heavily taxed, the price IS NOT dictated by taxes. It is dictated by supply and demand on the world market for crude oil and then refinery capacity based on demand. Never the less, nobody is ripping you off. It’s all a matter of choice. You have the choice NOT to purchase it. You have the choice to move somewhere with lower prices. If you fail to act on that choice, then you have nothing to complain about.

Bottom line is that ethanol would never be on the table at this point in time if it wasn't for huge government subsidies, much the same as electric cars which were tried and failed. Gasoline was brought to market by private corporations 100 or so years ago and is the standard today because the demand was there and oil was/is cheap and plentiful. When it no longer is, when people no longer are willing to pay for it, when the demand is no longer there and the consumer wants something else, private corporations will respond and find the alternative, WITHOUT SPENDING MY TAX DOLLARS TO MAKE SOMEONE FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES.

posted by  vwhobo

Not to start an argument or anything, but how is it possible that the Earth's temperature stays still for 1,000 then increases for a couple of years, then it stays still for another 1,000 years.

posted by  chris_knows

When exactly did that happen? I know you get most of your "news and information" from that Colbert idiot, but please. I expected better from you. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but during the last 100 years, most of the hottest years were in the earliest part. Can you explain that? Can you also explain what changes ahve been recorded not because of actual temperature change, but by how the temperatures are taken?


posted by  vwhobo

No. Neither can I explain why the ice on Antarctica is increasing lol. I don't believe in global warming, I'm just trying to understand your statement about how global warming "happens every thousand or so years"--that just implies that between the climate changes, temperature increase stays latent.

Also, anybody hear about the judge that ruled Al Gore's movie had 11 inaccuracies? Basically, whoever saw the movie knows that he only makes 11 points, and then throws some personal stories and Bush-bashing in between lol.

One final point--I get most of my news from CNN, generally from Glenn Beck. Colbert is just funny; I don't think anybody should take him seriously though lol.

posted by  chris_knows

Okay, you're right. I could have worded it better. What I meant was that climate change is cyclical with temperatures going up and down on a regular basis over the course of thousands of years. Better?

BTW, stay away from CNN. They're called the Communist News Network or the Corrupt News Network for a reason. As for AlGore, he's doing what his ilk do best... Use half truths and even lies to further his own personal agenda. The sad thing is that so many people are gullible enough to believe his trash. He needs to walk the walk. His houses use more energy than my shops do, and my stuff improves the economy and helps people.

posted by  vwhobo

Yeah, now that I look at it, the diagram explains that lol.

I would avoid CNN but we don't get Fox News here, which actually has the most centrist news shows according to a study conducted by the ACLU (Anti-American Communist Liberal Underground) lol.

Also, anyone see the half-time show on NBC last night?...Complete idiocy lol:
Click here (http://youtube.com/watch?v=dFt3yZiNmow)

posted by  chris_knows

It's not much, but it's something.


Where I live there's no cable and satellite can't get through the trees, so this has to do.

posted by  vwhobo

Sweet, thanks!

posted by  chris_knows

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