Charfuel® Process

Environmentally Responsible Energy Solutions

Competing Processes

Though other alternative energy sources have been proposed (such as wind, solar, ethanol, hydrogen, nuclear, Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-liquids, etc.), none of these options are a viable and economical option that is capable of truly replacing oil—at least for several decades. Additionally, none of these alternatives provide a source of essential petrochemicals. For example, solar, wind, and nuclear energy alternatives provide a source of electricity (albeit with high capital costs), but cannot efficiently produce liquid transportation fuels or petrochemicals. Further, production of certain alternative fuels, like ethanol and hydrogen, yield only a modest gain of energy relative to the amount of energy required to produce them and require large capital expenditures. Moreover, most ethanol production and Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-liquids processes require substantial amounts of process water from outside sources.  Most of these alternative fuels also require the construction of expensive new distribution and retail infrastructures, with long lead times, as well as new and/or modified engines.

Other direct and indirect coal liquefaction and gasification processes, including the long-available Fischer-Tropsch process, are also incapable of fully replacing oil—and especially high-value petrochemicals. Because of their relatively low thermal efficiencies and high capital costs and operating costs, these processes are only marginally profitable—and only break even when the prevailing market price of oil exceeds approximately $50 per barrel.  Moreover, Fischer-Tropsch based coal-to-liquids plants are extremely expensive to engineer and construct—typically $5 billion or more per project.

In contrast, the Charfuel® process can provide petrochemicals, transportation fuels, and clean high-BTU feedstock (char) for electricity generation—all for construction costs that are less than 1/2 of the costs associated with building a typical Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-liquids plant of similar fuel production capacity. Moreover, Charfuel® operating costs and input costs are far lower than those of Fischer-Tropsch plants.  The Charfuel® process is, therefore, fully capable of replacing oil (and the many co-products refined from oil), and even yields a co-product that is a raw coal substitute—char—which burns in an environmentally friendly manner (very low mercury, SOx, or NOx emissions). The fuel efficiency and energy density of Charfuel®-derived transportation fuels are comparable to fuels refined from petroleum. Thus, unlike most other alternative energy approaches, the Charfuel® Coal Refining Process is a viable, environmentally sound, and economic technology that can fulfill all the needs that oil has fulfilled to-date, using today’s existing engines and distribution infrastructure.





FT is a “coal conversion” process.

The FT process converts coal to other products which are then synthesized to fuels (indirect liquefaction).
Charfuel® is NOT a “coal conversion” process. Charfuel® IS a “coal refining” process analogous to refining crude oil.

FT yields only 36% energy conversion efficiency (defined as the BTU value of the final products divided by that of the coal feedstock). This is due to the fact that the FT process requires two steps in series: a) coal gasification to produce synthetic gas; and, b) the chemical polymerization of the synthetic gas to aliphatic (straight chain) hydrocarbon compounds.

The Charfuel® Coal Refining Process operates with 85% energy conversion efficiency (defined as the BTU value of the final products divided by that of the coal feedstock). This is due to the fact that the CF process directly refines coal in a manner similar to single-stage petroleum refining.

FT processes produce only straight chain hydro-carbons. No cyclic or aromatic compounds, such as petrochemicals (e.g., benzene, toluene, xylene (BTX)) are produced. Creating BTX and petrochemicals with FT requires an additional “reforming” step, which increases costs and reduces output.

The Charfuel® Coal Refining Process directly produces BTX and hydrocarbon gases in addition transportation fuels and boiler fuels. BTX are high-value commodities used in the manufacture of all plastics and in synthetic materials.
The sulfur and metals that are naturally present in coal cannot be tolerated by the FT process and must be removed from the gas prior to processing. This removal adds capital costs and operating costs, and limits the types of coals suitable for use in the FT process. The sulfur and metals naturally present in coal do not affect the Charfuel® Coal Refining Process. In fact, these compounds are turned into valuable co-products sold as commodities.

The FT process produces a number of oxygenated compounds such as ethers, ketones, and alcohols, along with waxes and viscous products requiring extensive hydro-treating to produce usable transportation fuels. Hydro-treating substantially increases the capital costs and operating costs of the process.

The Charfuel® Coal Refining Process produces essentially no oxygenated compounds other than very limited amounts of CO2 (which is captured during production before it ever reaches the atmosphere).
FT requires a substantial amount of process water, typically from scarce resources such as groundwater, rivers or lakes. The Charfuel® Coal Refining Process requires substantially no process water from outside sources. The process water used in the Charfuelâ process comes from the moisture in the coal itself.

Capital costs to build an FT plant producing about 1,500,000 gallons of fuel per day exceed $5 billion.  Thus, an FT plant’s capital cost per gallon of fuel production capacity is 2-3 times greater than that of a Charfuel® refinery.

Capital costs to build a Charfuel® refinery capable of producing about 350,000 gallons of distillates (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil) per day are approximately $600 million.


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