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Coal can be made into liquid fuel like gasoline

Because of its abundance in the US and relatively low price, coal is attractive not only for generating electricity but also for conversion into liquid fuels including synthetic gasoline and diesel1—and becomes even more so when crude oil prices rise or supplies from unstable regions of the world are cut off.

Coal is converted to liquids by first converting it to a gas (called synthesis gas) that is then reacted over a catalyst to turn it into a liquid. CO2 is produced as a by-product of this process.  Different fuels can be produced by changing the type of catalyst used. Coal-to-liquid conversion consumes water.  Detailed descriptions of "coal-to-liquids" technologies are provided  a paper co-authored by Climate Central scientist, Eric Larson.2

  1. America’s Energy Future Panel on Alternative Liquid Transportation Fuels: Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass: Technological Costs, Status, and Environmental Impacts, (Summary) National Academies Press, Washington DC, 20 May 2009.
  2. Kreutz, T. G., E. D. Larson, G. Liu, and R. H. Williams. “Fischer-Tropsch Fuels from Coal to Biomass, 2008,” (PDF) 2008.