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SRI Research Identifies Environmentally Friendly Process to Make Coal-Based Liquid Fuel – MarketWatch

press release

Dec. 20, 2011, 12:00 p.m. EST

SRI Research Identifies Environmentally Friendly Process to Make Coal-Based
Liquid Fuel

MENLO PARK, Calif., Dec. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Research from
SRI International has identified a promising new way to produce liquid
transportation fuels from coal without consuming water or generating carbon
dioxide. Based on data from bench-scale tests, SRI engineers estimate that
the capital cost for a full-scale plant using SRI’s process would be less
than half that of a conventional coal-to-liquids (CTL) plant that uses a
process called Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS). FTS produces only a small
fraction of the hydrocarbons needed for fuel and requires extensive

SRI’s new process uses natural gas to provide the hydrogen needed to convert
coal to syngas (a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen). Syngas is first
converted into methanol, which can then be efficiently processed to make
transportation fuels.

Using natural gas eliminates the need to add water as a source of hydrogen,
reduces the need to add energy to drive the gasification reaction, and
results in the use of a smaller gasifier. In conventional CTL approaches,
energy is supplied by burning a portion of the coal feed, which then
produces carbon dioxide. SRI’s approach makes it economical to use carbon
neutral electricity, such as nuclear, hydro, or solar as a source of
additional energy.

“The implications of this research are expansive, including enhancing US
energy security through the use of domestic carbon sources,” said Robert
Wilson, Ph.D., director, Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, SRI
International. “The process can also dramatically reduce the environmental
footprint associated with alternative transportation fuels.”

SRI performed a series of analyses to examine the environmental impact of
the technology under several scenarios. Based on these analyses, if diesel
were produced using biogas as the source of methane, the resulting product
would qualify as an alternative fuel under the revised Renewable Fuels
Standard of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The Act
requires alternative fuels to meet a standard of 50-percent reduction of
greenhouse gas emissions compared to other fuels.

The SRI process was recently presented at the 28th Annual International
Pittsburgh Coal Conference in a presentation titled, “Coal Gasification with
Methane Reforming: A Novel Environmentally Benign CTL Process” by Ripudaman
Malhotra, associate director of SRI’s Chemical Science and Technology

The effort or project depicted is supported by DARPA under Contract No.
HR0011-10-0049. The views and conclusions contained in this document are
those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the
official policies, either expressly or implied, of the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency or the U.S. Government.

About SRI International Silicon Valley-based SRI International, a nonprofit
research and development organization, performs sponsored R&D for
governments, businesses, and foundations. SRI brings its innovations to the
marketplace through technology licensing, new products, and spin-off
ventures. Commemorating its 65th anniversary in 2011, SRI is known for
world-changing innovations in computing, health and pharmaceuticals,
chemistry and materials, sensing, energy, education, national defense, and

SOURCE SRI International

Copyright (C) 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

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