Battelle ready to take coal-to-liquids technology to commercial level

Battelle scientists and engineers have demonstrated a process that turns coal into jet fuel, with the next step being to commercialize the process.

In a cost-shared program supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the Ohio Coal Development Office (OCDO) of the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA), Battelle is demonstrating a coal-to-liquids process for producing jet fuel using biomass-derived coal solvents.

The conversion of coal to syncrude is carried out at a relatively low pressure without requiring gaseous hydrogen or a catalyst, Battelle noted in an April 20 statement. The syncrude can be upgraded to jet fuel and other distillates employing conventional petroleum upgrading technology.

“The Battelle process offers a significant reduction in capital and operating costs and a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” said Satya Chauhan, the leader of Battelle’s process-development team that also includes other Battelle supporting organizations. “Our objectives are to demonstrate a straightforward path to near-term commercial production of jet fuel from coal using biomass-derived coal solvents.”

Chauhan recently presented findings on the potentially breakthrough technology and has filed several patent applications. He will present more findings in August at the 2016 International Pittsburgh Coal Conference, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa.

The results of the two-phase project, which is nearing completion, will be the advancement of three steps of the hybrid coal/biomass-to-jet fuel process to the technology readiness level of 5 (TRL 5). The bio-solvent production and coal liquefaction have been scaled-up successfully to one ton per day. Chauhan’s team has successfully tested numerous, novel bio-solvents with bituminous coal from West Virginia and Ohio, as well as a sub-bituminous coal. Also, several catalysts have been evaluated for upgrading the syncrude to jet fuel and diesel. The detailed results on cost savings and GHG emissions reduction will be available towards the end of 2016.

All key subsystems of the new process employ commercially-available equipment as well as raw materials available around the world. Battelle is seeking technology licensees for worldwide applications and use.

Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, since its founding in 1929, Battelle serves the national security, health and life sciences, and energy and environmental industries. Battelle is the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization, with over 22,000 employees at more than 60 locations globally.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.