A review on coal to liquid fuels and its coal consumption

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Publication date: 2009-07-29
First published in International Journal of Energy Research
Authors: M. Höök, K. Aleklett


Continued reliance on oil is unsustainable, and this has resulted in interest in alternative fuels. Coal-to-liquids (CTL) can supply liquid fuels and have been successfully used in several cases, particularly in South Africa. This article reviews CTL theory and technology. Understanding the fundamental aspects of coal liquefaction technologies is vital for planning and policy-making, as future CTL systems will be integrated into a much larger global energy and fuel utilization system.

Conversion ratios for CTL are estimated to be between 1 and 2 barrels/ton coal. It puts a strict limitation on future CTL capacity imposed by future coal production volumes, regardless of other factors such as economics, emissions or environmental concerns. Assuming that 10% of world coal production can be diverted to CTL, the contribution to liquid fuel supply will be limited to only a few mega barrels per day. It prevents CTL from becoming a viable mitigation plan for liquid fuel shortage on a global scale. However, it is still possible for individual nations to derive significant shares of their fuel supply from CTL, but those nations must also have access to equally significant coal production capacities. It is unrealistic to claim that CTL provides a feasible solution to liquid fuels shortages created by peak oil. For the most part, it can only be a minor contributor and must be combined with other strategies.

Published in: International Journal of Energy Research, article in press
Available from: Wiley-Interscience

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