The Future of Coal as a Transportation Fuel
Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)
Energy and Environment
Due to environmental concerns and cost issues, coal is currently being phased out from usage in electricity production. Regardless, there remains a massive stockpile of coal reserves along with a large industrial complex and a robust distribution/processing infrastructure. As such, coal should be considered for usage in other energy areas. Since coal is simply a solid hydrocarbon, it can be converted over for usage as a transportation fuel. The Fischer-Tropsch process that underlies this conversion is well established with some countries like South Africa currently using it at large scales. Unfortunately, this conversion process has a large carbon footprint, even when using carbon capture technology. However, the blending of coal-based fuels with biodiesel has been found to be more carbon neutral than standard diesel or biodiesel alone. Additionally, coal can be used as an alternate to methane for hydrogen production. Given carbon capture technologies and the existing coal infrastructure, these two uses of coal provide opportunities for a sustainable and economical use of coal as a transportation fuel.
Mittal, V., Shah, R., & Huq, N. (2021). The future of coal as a transportation fuel. Energy & Environment. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0958305X211037973
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