[ExI] Coal Gasification and CO2 (was Re: Whatever happened to peak oil by 2020?)

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Mon May 13 15:23:53 UTC 2013

On Sat, May 11, 2013 at 05:56:09PM -0600, Kelly Anderson wrote:

> I'm not a great chemist, and the chemical composition of coal is very
> complex, but my understanding of it is that to convert the carbon chains in
> the coal to octane, you have to release carbon dioxide. This isn't from the
> burning of the coal itself, but as a side effect of the conversion. I could
> be wrong, but no matter the energy source, using the Fischer–Tropsch
> process or similar, you would always release large amounts of CO2. I would
> love to be wrong about this. Any chemistry gurus out there?

The reason for CO2 release is that the entire process is driven from energy
that is supplied from coal.

There is no reason why you cannot supply e.g. hydrogen from water electrolysis
from renewable surplus during peak, and also build up pressure and temperature
via electric input -- other than the cost of energy, particularly high-grade
energy like electricity. There is a potential niche usage of nuclear power for
process heat and steam (making shale kerogen fly and gasify coal underground) 
which is safer and remote and not Carnot-limited. 

This is probably going to happen because we're going to burn any source of
carbon we can liberate, and devil take the hindmost.

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