Yet another process which will shore up hydrocarbon based heavy trucking during the depletion phase of peak oil has been created.
Previously there has existed the Fischer-Tropf process which allows conversion of coal to liquids, with significant energy costs, coal and other inputs including hydrogen.
This new process has been developed by a company called Quantex Energy based out of Calgary, Alberta and is significantly more efficient than the Fischer Tropf process to the point of estimating that it could be easily scaled to "millions of barrels per day in North America".
See www.quantex.com for news. Quote from the site follows:
"Quantex Energy Inc is developing a process which seeks to refine coal as easily and inexpensively as crude oil processing. Taking advantage of the fact that the hydrocarbon refining industry has already developed the technology for "upgrading" heavy hydrocarbons such as Venezuelan Orinoco crude, or Alberta Oil Sands crude, Quantex Energy Inc seeks to produce liquids that meet the same specifications as heavy crude.
This new process is in distinct contrast to processes of the 1970s and earlier, which assumed that coal should only be made only into sweet light crudes. Consequently, protocols of the 1970s called for adding 30 pounds of hydrogen per barrel of synthetic crude, in turn requiring enormous high pressure reactors with hour long processing times. In contrast, the Quantex Energy Inc process requires only a few pounds of hydrogen to liquefy coal. It is primarily a depolymerization and cracking process. The reasons why the Quantex process is perceived to be advantageous compared to conventional direct liquefaction are:
* Requires significantly less hydrogen per barrel versus other CTL technology
* Hydrogenation is accomplished through a patent pending process
* Requires only minutes of processing time rather than hours in the break through bio-hydrogenation reactor
* Is accomplished at pressures significantly lower then competitive processes
* No molybdenum or cobalt catalysts are required.
Unlike the Fischer-Tropsch indirect liquefaction process, the Quantex coal to liquids process produces no carbon dioxide during the liquefaction process. The Quantex process is not based on gasified coal at all. Rather, the Quantex process is a simpler-cheaper-faster direct liquefaction process, which seeks to produce commodity fuels and chemicals-particularly heavy products such as pitches and heavy crude at the lowest achievable pressure and residence time.
Hence, given the enormous amount of coal reserves in Canada and the United States, the Quantex process can be scaled to the level of millions of barrels per day at a fraction of the cost of conventional liquefaction schemes."