SYNTHETIC FUEL DEFINITONS
Synthetic Feed stocks
Any feedstock NOT produced from conventional
Resource can be any burnable
A generic name given to hydrocarbon fuels produced from
natural gas, coal or biomass
A number of synthetic fuel's definitions
include fuels produced from biomass,
industrial and municipal waste. The definition
of synthetic fuel may also consist of oil
sands and oil shale as synthetic fuel's
sources and in addition to liquid fuels also
gaseous fuels are covered.
James G. Speight included liquid and gaseous
fuels as well as clean solid fuels produced by
conversion of coal, oil shale or tar sands, and
various forms of biomass.
WHY ARE SYNTHETIC FUELS
5 Reasons for continued production and
improvement of synthetic fuels
• World has a finite supply of conventional
• India’s demand for crude oil is steadily
• The world jet fuel market is decreasing
• National Security and energy independence
• Synthetic Fuels help India to reduce
dependency on foreign oil.
Synthetic Feedstock sources include:
Natural Gas to Liquids
Coal Gasification: Producing synthetic natural gas
Coal Liquefaction: Conversion of coal to liquid
for use as a synthetic fuel.
Alternate crude sources include
Shale Oil: Extracted hydrocarbon known
as Kerogen from shale (large shale formations
Exist in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming)
Tar Sands: Extraction of very heavy, asphalt
“like” crude oil called Bitumen from grains of
sand, or, in some cases, porous carbonate rocks.
The U.S. has some tar sands mainly in Utah. The
largest deposits are in Canada.
PRODUCTION OF SYNTHETIC
Synthetic fuels are produced by the
chemical process of CONVERSION.
Conversion methods could be Direct
Conversion into liquid transportation fuels,
or Indirect Conversion, in which the source
substance is converted initially into
syngas which then goes through additional
conversion process to become liquid
fuels. Basic conversion methods include
carbonization & pyrolysis along with
hydrogenation & thermal dissolution.
Direct conversion refers to processes in
which coal or biomass feedstocks are
converted directly into intermediate or
final products, without going through the
intermediate step of conversion to syngas
Direct conversion processes can be broadly
broken up into two different methods:
Pyrolysis or Carbonization
One of the main methods of direct
conversion of coal to liquids is by
hydrogenation process or the Bergius
process. In this process, coal is liquefied
by mixing it with hydrogen gas and heating
the system (hydrogenation). Dry coal is
mixed with heavy oil recycled from the
The reaction can be summarized as follows
2222 HHCHC nnnn
PYROLYSIS OR CARBONIZATION
The carbonization conversion occurs
through pyrolysis or destructive distillation, and it
produces condensable coal tar, oil and water
vapour, non-condensable synthetic gas, and a solid
residue-charcoal. The condensed coal tar and oil
are then further processed by hydrogenation to
remove sulphur and nitrogen species, after which
they are processed into fuels.
The process was invented by Lewis Cass Karrick in
the 1920s. Its a low temperature carbonization
where coal is heated at 680 °F (360 °C) to
1,380 °F (750 °C) in the absence of air.
Indirect conversion broadly refers to a
process in which biomass, coal, or natural gas
is converted to a mixture
of hydrogen and carbon monoxide also known
as syngas either,
through gasification or steam methane
reforming, and that syngas is processed into
a liquid transportation fuel using one of a
number of different conversion techniques
depending on the desired end product
1) FISHER-TROPSCH PROCESS
• Fisher-Tropsch (FT) is an emerging technology for
Converting synthetic crude to synthetic fuels.
Developed by Germany during World War II to
make gasoline from coal.
Developed out of necessity from a lack of
available crude oil.
Modernized in South Africa by SASOL
• Converts coal, natural gas, and low-value refinery
products into high value, clean burning fuel.
• FT offers important emissions benefits compared to
Reference: Review of Responses to RFI on Synthetic Fuel, 31 August 2006 (DESC internal presentation)
2) SYNTHETIC FUEL FROM
Biomass can be any plant derived organic matter,
available on a renewable basis including:
• Dedicated energy crops and trees
• Agricultural food and feed crops
• Agricultural crop wastes
• Wood wastes and residues
• Aquatic Plants
• Animal wastes
• Municipal wastes and other waste
Leading source of renewable energy in U.S.
since 1999 .
Provides fuel, heat, electricity, chemicals
and other products.
Agricultural and forestry residues most
common resource for generating electricity
and process steam.
Increases use of crops for biodiesel and
BIOMASS PLATFORMS FOR
Source: Office of the Biomass Program-Multiyear Plan 2004 and Beyond, Nov. 2003
Ethanol, alcohol blends,
Biodiesel, fuel additives
blocks for secondary
Electricity and Heat
For utilities, from
distributed systems using
biomass or as a part
of a grid-connected
One concern commonly raised about the
development of synthetic fuels plants is
sustainability. Fundamentally, transitioning from
oil to coal or natural gas for transportation fuels
production is a transition from one inherently
depleteable geologically limited resource to
another. One of the positive defining
characteristics of synthetic fuels production is
the ability to use multiple feedstocks (coal, gas,
or biomass) to produce the same product from
the same plant.
This provides a path forwards to a
renewable fuel source and possibly more
sustainable, even if the plant originally
produced fuels solely from coal, making
the infrastructure forwards-compatible
even if the original fossil feedstock runs