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Battelle scientists converting coal to jet fuel

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Battelle scientists and engineers have demonstrated a process that turns coal into jet fuel. The next step is to commercialise the process.

In a cost shared programme supported by the US Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the Ohio Coal Development Office (OCDO) of the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA), Battelle is demonstrating a new, hybrid, direct coal to liquids process for producing jet fuel using biomass-derived coal solvents.

The conversion of coal to syncrude is carried out at a relatively low pressure without requiring gaseous hydrogen or a catalyst. The syncrude can be upgraded to jet fuel and other distillates employing conventional petroleum upgrading technology.

"The Battelle process offers a significant reduction in capital and operating costs and a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions," said Satya Chauhan, the leader of Battelle's process development team that also includes other Battelle supporting organisations. "Our objectives are to demonstrate a straightforward path to near term commercial production of jet fuel from coal using biomass-derived coal solvents."

Chauhan has recently presented findings on the potentially breakthrough technology and has filed several patent applications. He will present more findings in August at the 2016 International Pittsburgh Coal Conference, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa.

The results of the two phase project, which is nearing completion, will be the advancement of three steps of the hybrid coal/biomass to jet fuel process to the technology readiness level of 5 (TRL 5). The bio-solvent production and coal liquefaction have been scaled up successfully to one tpd. Chauhan's team has successfully tested numerous, novel bio-solvents with bituminous coal from West Virginia and Ohio, as well as a sub-bituminous coal. Additionally, several catalysts have been evaluated for upgrading the syncrude to jet fuel and diesel. The detailed results on cost savings and GHG emissions reduction will be available towards the end of 2016.

All key subsystems of the new process employ commercially available equipment as well as raw materials available around the world. Battelle is seeking technology licensees for worldwide applications and use.

Adapted from press release by Francesca Brindle

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