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Making crude oil from coal, without mining or combustion

By Paul Grad |

An underground coal-to-liquids (UCTL) technology is undergoing pilot testing at Oak Park, near Melbourne Australia, where a metric ton of brown coal is expected to yield about one barrel of oil suitable for use as refinery feedstock on an oil-parity price basis. UCTL takes place within the underground coal seam, whereby low rank coals are liquefied into crude oil substitute product at 300°C. Heat released from the reaction is returned to the surface as steam, which can be used to generate electricity. The technology is subject to two patent applications lodged by its inventor, Peter O’Dowd, a consultant from South Australia. One patent covers the overall process, and the second covers the delivery of water with simulated supercritical properties (WSSP). This is water with high kinetic energy delivered using a jet pump and purpose-designed nozzles. Regal Resources Ltd. (Melbourne, Australia; www.regalresources.com.au) has exclusive worldwide rights to commercialize the process. The UCTL process requires no direct mining or coal combustion. It utilizes high-pressure water and catalysts to produce hydrocarbon liquids, methane and steam from coal through drill holes. Small quantities of non-toxic initiation chemicals and catalysts…
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