Turning Coal into Liquid Fuel

Publication Date: May 2009

Publisher: National Center for Policy Analysis (U.S.)

Author(s): H. Sterling Burnett; Nicholas Ducote

Research Area: Energy

Keywords: energy; Fischer-Tropsch; fuel; coal

Type: Brief

Coverage: United States


First developed by Germany during World War II, the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process offers America a chance to utilize its vast domestic coal supply, increase refining capacity, and produce a cost-efficient and clean fuel. The process can be used to transform natural gas, biomass or coal into liquid fuels; but for America, coal is the most viable feedstock. The coal-to-liquids (CTLs) process changes coal into a synthetic gas which is then
converted into combustible liquid fuels. Diesel and kerosene (jet fuel) are the final products.