Report

Liquid fuel from coal

14 Jan 2009
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Australia has an estimated six per cent of the world’s recoverable resources of black coal, and also accounts for about six per cent of current world coal production. This paper provides information on production of liquid fuel from coal and its potential as an alternative to petroleum-based transport fuels in Australia. Australia has an estimated six per cent of the world’s recoverable resources of black coal, and also accounts for about six per cent of current world coal production. Much of this is exported: indeed, Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter. In resources, it ranks sixth behind the USA (31 per cent), Russia (21 per cent), China (13 per cent), India (eight per cent) and South Africa (seven per cent). It is estimated that at current rates of production, Australia has enough black coal to last about 180 years. Black coal represents about half of Australia’s total coal reserves: it also has about 25 per cent of the world’s recoverable resources of brown coal. On the other hand, Australia is a net importer of crude oil and refined oil products, with domestic production of crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) meeting only about 53 per cent of domestic consumption.

These factors, together with a desire for increased domestic energy security, and protection from economic instabilities affecting global oil prices and supply, lead to the question of whether Australia should consider developing a coal-derived transport fuel industry to meet domestic demands.

This paper provides information on production of liquid fuel from coal and its potential as an alternative to petroleum-based transport fuels in Australia. Presented first is information on liquid fuel production from coal including environmental aspects, followed by an overview of the status of the industry worldwide, and future prospects.

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2009
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