Charfuel® Process

Environmentally Responsible Energy Solutions


Charfuel® Coal Refining Process is an economical, environmentally compatible substitute for crude oil and a major enabler for achieving energy independence in the U.S. Since the final products produced with the Charfuel® process are chemically identical to those refined from crude oil, our entire national (and international) fuel distribution and use infrastructure can be utilized—unchanged.  


The Charfuel® Coal Refining Process is environmentally friendly, producing no emissions, including greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2). Therefore, the Charfuel® process’ “carbon footprint” is substantially better than any of today’s conventional petroleum refining practices—even superior to many biofuels, like corn-based ethanol, which produces a significant amount of CO2. With the Charfuel® process, all potential pollutants are captured before they ever reach the atmosphere. Sulfur, nitrogen, mercury and other potential pollutants from the coal are captured and refined into valuable co-products (such as ammonia for fertilizer) that can be immediately sold into the commodities markets. Additionally, the Charfuel® process is able to produce ultra-low-sulfur “green diesel”, which has a higher cetane value than conventional diesel, thus leading to improved engine performance and higher fuel mileage with less vehicle emissions.

Importantly, unlike other processes that convert coal into liquid fuels or synthetic gases (such as the Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-liquids process), as well as many biofuels (such as ethanol) manufacturing processes, the Charfuel® process uses substantially no external process water; and, therefore, does not rely on scarce groundwater or water from lakes and rivers. The process water used in a Charfuel® refinery comes from the moisture in the coal itself.


Utilizing fuels and co-products derived from the Charfuel® process has the potential to save our economy hundreds of billions of dollars versus alternative fuels that would require whole new distribution infrastructures and engines and powertrains (e.g. ethanol, hydrogen, electric vehicles, etc.).

The refined fuels from the Charfuel® process, unlike alternatives such as ethanol and hydrogen, can utilize today’s existing petroleum-based fuels distribution and retail infrastructure—thus avoiding the need to construct a multi-billion dollar energy distribution infrastructure with the associated years of time delay that moving to ethanol, hydrogen or other alternative fuels would require. Moreover, no engine modifications (or new categories of engines/powertrains, such as electric vehicles or fuel cells) are required in order to use fuels produced with the Charfuel® process; the fuel quality and characteristics are exactly the same as those produced from petroleum. Hence, there is no need for new engines/powertrains, pipelines, terminals, storage tanks, tankers, retail pumps or long product acceptance periods. The same is true for the petrochemical products derived from the Charfuel® process.

All Charfuel® process outputs—liquid fuels, petrochemicals, and power plant feedstocks—can immediately be sold commercially in profitable commodities markets that already exist, and have substantial need for additional supply.  As such, they are direct replacements for petroleum-derived products.


The Charfuel® Coal Refining Process can provide the U.S. with a clean replacement for foreign oil at a substantially lower cost. Because the United States has over 1/3 of the world’s coal, the Charfuel® Coal Refining Process will help the United States achieve true energy independence, which will contribute greatly to national security. With the Charfuel® process, the U.S. will no longer have to rely on unstable (and shrinking) foreign oil supplies. There is more coal in the United States than all the known oil and gas reserves in the world. It is estimated that the U.S. has a 300 year supply of coal.

Utilizing this abundant domestic resource as a Charfuel® refinery feedstock will not only enhance national security, it will also improve the economy by expanding domestic industry, providing stable, well-paying (non-exportable) jobs, and by reducing the U.S.’s foreign trade deficit—approximately 1/3 of which is the direct result of importing foreign oil. In the 1950s, the United States was a petroleum exporter with a positive balance of trade and a strong dollar. However, today, the United States imports approximately 2/3 of the oil it consumes, has a large trade deficit (hundreds of billions of dollars per year) and a weakened dollar. Furthermore, crude oil-based fuel and chemical prices have reached record highs and are increasingly unstable due to dwindling crude oil supplies, OPEC’s control of major volumes of supply, and the fact that many of the world’s largest oil reserves are found in politically unstable regions, some of which are hostile to U.S. interests.  This is amplified by the fact that, increasingly, reserves in many oil-rich nations are becoming state-controlled.

In contrast, due to the vast domestic coal resources in the United States, the price of raw coal is stable, and has been for many years. Therefore, with the broad deployment of Charfuel® coal refining technology, U.S. industry will be far less sensitive to the significant political price fluctuations and supply manipulations in the world oil markets, which have detrimental repercussions throughout the U.S. economy. With these large sources of coal meeting the demands traditionally met by petroleum, fuel prices, as well as petrochemical prices, will stabilize. In addition to the inherent manufacturing efficiencies of the Charfuel® process, the fact that coal feedstock is far less expensive than crude oil means that Charfuel® process-derived fuels can always compete with fuels and petrochemicals derived from petroleum—even at a $20-per-barrel crude oil price.


The Charfuel® Coal Refining Process is very reliable (like petroleum refining) having an online factor of greater than 95%. The Charfuel® process is continuous, with a reactor residence time of less than one second, yielding a low "capital-to-throughput" cost. Furthermore, the Charfuel® process can be combined with an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plant to produce inexpensive, environmentally compatible, and dependable electricity.

Another critical advantage of the Charfuel® Coal Refining Process is that it is more flexible than petroleum refining, and can easily adjust product output yields between petrochemicals, transportation fuels, and boiler fuels (char) by simply changing process parameters.  This flexibility allows a Charfuel® refinery to react quickly to the ever-changing commodities markets for gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and petrochemicals—and thus achieve superior economic performance and a greater return on assets—unlike traditional coal gasification and liquefaction technologies, which have rigid process parameters.

Adding to its versatility is the capability of the Charfuel® process to use bituminous, sub-bituminous, or lignite coals, as well as high-moisture, high-sulfur, high-ash, and caking coals, which also differentiates the Charfuel® process from traditional coal gasification and liquefaction technologies.

Today’s most common alternative fuels (such as ethanol, biodiesel and hydrogen) do not produce any of the essential petrochemicals that are produced during crude oil refining.  As much as 40% of crude oil is converted into these high-value petrochemicals as a result of the conventional oil refining process.  These petrochemicals are critical for providing many of the economy’s most important materials, including nearly every kind of plastic material on the market today.  The Charfuel® process yields the same petrochemicals as oil refining, and can continue to meet the market’s demand for these valuable materials without reliance on crude oil.


The net “energy density” of alternative fuels should be the same as petroleum-derived fuels in order to be viable and economical replacements. The higher the net energy density of a fuel, the greater the amount of energy it stores per unit of volume. Unlike most biofuels, Charfuel® products are identical to those refined from crude oil, and thus have equal (high) energy densities. Thus, mileage (fuel economy) achieved with fuels derived from the Charfuel® process is the same as that achieved with petroleum-derived fuels. By contrast, today’s most common alternative fuel—ethanol—has a lower energy density than petroleum-derived gasoline, resulting in lower fuel mileage. Moreover, most biofuels must be mixed with petroleum-based fuels (e.g., E-10 and E-85) and still are not suitable for as aviation fuels; and, therefore, cannot fully replace oil for conventional engines (or even for modified engines as yet).


The Charfuel® Coal Refining Process has an energy efficiency factor of 85% (coal feedstock BTUs to end-product BTUs). This means that 85% of the energy in the coal remains in the liquid fuels and co-products that are produced, which makes Charfuel’s® energy efficiency factor comparable to that of petroleum refining. In contrast, some of today’s most common alternative fuels (such as corn-based ethanol and hydrogen) have substantially lower energy efficiency factors, and contain only a modest amount more energy than the energy required to produce them. Moreover, the long-available Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-liquids process yields only 36% energy conversion efficiency (defined as the BTU value of the final products divided by the BTU value of the coal feedstock). Thus, Charfuel’s® process efficiency is much higher than that of nearly all other alternative fuels systems.  


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