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Synthetic Fuels


Probstien, Ronald F.

Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and
Water Purification Associates

Hicks, R. Edwin
Water Purification Assicates

McGraw-Hill Book Company

Copyright 1982

 Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction 1
  1.1 Synthetic Fuels and Their Manufacture 1
  1.2 History 6
  1.3 Properties of Coal, Oil Shale, and Tar Sands 11
  1.4 Resources 21
    References 29
Chapter 2 Chemical and Physical Fundamentals 31
  2.1 Chemistry for Synthetic Fuels 31
  2.2 Thermodynamics for Synthetic Fuels 48
  2.3 Reaction Kinetics and Catalysis 72
  2.4 Reactor Considerations 83
    References 94
Chapter 3 Conversion Fundamentals 95
  3.1 Pyrolysis 95
  3.2 Gasification 111
  3.3 Gas Shift and Synthesis 123
  3.4 Direct Liquefaction 131
  3.5 Comparison of Synthetic Fuel Routes 138
    References 141
Chapter 4 Gas from Coal 144
  4.1 Gasification Technologies 144
  4.2 Steam/Oxygen and Steam/Air Gasification 156
  4.3 Indirectly Heated and Molten Media Gasification 182
  4.4 Hydrogasification and Catalytic Gasification 189
  4.5 Underground Gasification 202
    References 208
Chapter 5 Gas Upgrading 210
  5.1 Gas Cleaning and Purification 210
  5.2 Shift and Methanation 221
  5.3 Oxygen Production 226
  5.4 Hydrogen Production 233
  5.5 Integrated Plants 238
    References 255
Chapter 6 Liquids and Clean Solids from Coal 257
  6.1 Liquefaction and Coal Refining Technologies 257
  6.2 Indirect Liquefaction 264
  6.3 Pyrolysis 280
  6.4 Direct Liquefaction 291
  6.5 Upgrading Coal Liquids 309
    References 319
Chapter 7 Liquids from Oil Shale and Tar Sands 322
  7.1 Oil Shale Retorting 322
  7.2 Integrated Oil Shale Plants 346
  7.3 Tar Sands Recovery 359
  7.4 Integrated Tar Sands Plants 371
    References 379
Chapter 8 Biomass Conversion 381
  8.1 Resources 381
  8.2 Biochemical Conversion 390
  8.3 Thermal Conversion 401
    References 410
Chapter 9 Environmental Aspects 411
  9.1 Environmental Effects and Their Measure 411
  9.2 Air Pollution Control 420
  9.3 Water Management 430
  9.4 Solid Wastes Disposal 437
  References 441
Chapter 10 Economics and Perspective 442
  10.1 Economic Considerations 442
  10.2 Resource, Process, and Product Considerations 448
  References 455



Constants and Conversion Factors

  B Symbols and Acronyms 458






Gasifier to Methanol Plant


Wong Ha Ing


Bachelor of Engineering Thesis



Division of Chemical Engineering


This project relates to the production of methanol from a gasification coal process at Tarong Power Plant. The gasification process produces syngas (CO + H2) which can be further processed for methanol production. Crude methanol is the initial product which requires further distillation in order to meet the final product specifications as Chemical Grade AA methanol, Fuel Grade Methanol and MTBE Grade Methanol.
Coal is a combustible mineral that contains more than 50% w/w of carbonaceous material. Coal gasification technology is the latest “clean coal technology” whose resulting product gases such as CO2, CO, H2, CH4 and others can be used to produce methanol, low sulphur diesel or hydrogen for fuel cell applications. The technology will also reduce gaseous emissions to the environment, which results in reduction of environmental pollution impact such as the greenhouse effect, acid rain, and photochemical smog.
Gasification is defined as conversion of coal to produce gases such as CO, H2, CH4 and others. The syngas mainly (CO + H2) is fed to a liquid fuel plant to produce low sulphur diesel, methanol or perhaps hydrogen. There are many types of gasifier design such as the entrained flow gasifier, moving bed gasifier, fluidized bed gasifier and fixed bed gasifier. Typically there are two stages of gasification before syngas is produced- pyrolysis and gasification/ combustion. The descriptions of various gasifiers are given in the literature review section. The syngas is fed to cleaning technology units such as particulate matter removal units, water removal units, sulphur removal units and carbon dioxide removal units before being fed to the methanol synthesis unit. 2 main processes take place in the methanol synthesis plant- water gas shift reaction and Low Pressure Methanol process to produce crude methanol before is delivered to purification units for further purification. By- products, especially steam, can be used for power generation application to produce additional electricity.
In addition to the literature review this thesis also consists of a PFD of a methanol synthesis plant and ASPEN simulation model analysis. This is important to ensure the liquid fuel plant operates under a safe and effective regime.


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 An Overview of Coal based Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Technology


September 2005


Ola Maurstad

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Laboratory for Energy and the Environment



The integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) produces electricity from a solid or liquid fuel. First, the fuel is converted to syngas which is a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Second, the syngas is converted to electricity in a combined cycle power block consisting of a gas turbine process and a steam turbine process which includes a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG). The combined cycle technology is similar to the technology used in modern natural gas fired power plants.

Coal based IGCC plants are still not fully commercial. A number of demonstration plants with electric output up to 300 MW have been built in Europe and the US, all with financial support from government. The motivation for pursuing this technology is the potential for better environmental performance at a low marginal cost. This is especially true for mercury removal and CO2 capture. In order to compete with conventional pulverized coal plants under current environmental regulation, the main challenges facing the IGCC technology today are capital cost and availability.


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Robert H. Williams, Princeton Environmental Institute, Princeton University

12 January 2005



• It seems feasible to make a major contribution in addressing challenges posed by the automobile—in this quarter century—via production and use of designer synfuels from coal/biomass with CCS

    • Major technical uncertainty is “gigascale” viability of CO2 storage—many more “megascale” CO2 storage demos needed…soon
    • Biomass synfuel production technology must be brought to commercial readiness (commercial gasifier needed) and demonstrated…new Swedish biomass synfuel test facility at former BIGCC demo site
    • Also demos needed for synfuels plants with CCS…but radical new technologies not needed


  • Carbon mitigation policy needed
  • Institutional/cultural challenges:
    – Overcoming widespread ill feelings about coal synfuels costly synfuels failures of late 1970s-early 1980s
    – Political will to enact ambitious automotive efficiency improvement policy
    – Coalition-building for proposed strategy—across multiple industries and
    involving international collaborations (e.g., among Australia, Brazil, China, US)



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Biomass conversion using supercritical water and hydrothermal treatment


Biomass Project Research Center, Hiroshima University


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