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Old 11-02-2007, 05:12 AM   #1
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Why Aren't We...

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.

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Old 11-02-2007, 05:43 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_knows
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.

Opinions?
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).
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Old 11-02-2007, 06:04 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by giant016
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).
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.
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Old 11-02-2007, 07:34 AM   #4
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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.
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Old 11-04-2007, 12:35 AM   #5
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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?
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Old 11-04-2007, 01:25 AM   #6
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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?
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
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He notes that coal-to-oil plants are extremely expensive -- "[a] single plant capable of producing about 80,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day -- less than 0.5% of America's daily oil diet -- would cost an estimated $6 billion or more to build" -- while there are serious environmental concerns about the process's production of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, and other pollutants. Barta cites studies from the Natural Resources Defense Council, an American environmental group, that estimate the production and use of a gallon of liquid fuel originating from coal emits about 80 percent more carbon dioxide than the production and use of other fuels -- gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel -- derived from crude oil. Barta reports that "some boosters of the coal-to-oil plants describe them as carbon-dioxide factories that produce energy on the side" but that it may be possible to significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by building new plants that use technologies to trap and store carbon dioxide during the production process.
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.
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Old 11-04-2007, 12:59 PM   #7
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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.
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Old 11-04-2007, 02:26 PM   #8
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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.
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Old 11-04-2007, 07:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by fudge
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.
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.
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Old 11-05-2007, 04:37 AM   #10
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Why arent we converting water into hydrogen/oxygen and using hydrogen to power everything for the rest of time?
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Old 11-05-2007, 12:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_knows
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.



I never knew that, I always thought that ethanol was the answer to our problems. Hopefully the technology of making e100 improves quickly.
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Old 11-05-2007, 01:05 PM   #12
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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.
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Old 11-05-2007, 02:01 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by fudge
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.
Beating a Ferrari would feel good until it catches up to you and guns the amazing gasoline engine .
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Old 11-05-2007, 02:26 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by fudge
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.
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.
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Old 11-05-2007, 07:04 PM   #15
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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.
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.

Quote:
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.
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.
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