Given Thorium’s potential impact on fossil fuels, APIED in 2007 commenced research on alternative uses for fossil fuels, with the primary focus on coal.
A process called ‘Hydrogasification’ was developed in the 1980s in the United States. This process utilises half the number of manufacturing steps found in the traditional Fischer-Tropsch technology, emits no CO2 in the conversion of coal to liquids or ultra-pure carbon (UPC) and results in a quantum increase in output. This enables our technology to compete with oil at $US30 per barrel.
We are significantly superior and more efficient to the Fischer-Tropsch process for the following reasons:
- The Fischer-Tropsch process requires steam and oxygen and these are expensive materials requiring much energy and equipment to produce. Our process is far less intensive in this regard. It does not require clean steam or clean oxygen and clean gas so that the number of operations required to produce the end products is half that of a Fischer-Tropsch coal conversion plant.
- The Fischer-Tropsch process exchanges the carbon in coal for hydrogen from water and emits to the atmosphere large quantities of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse global warming gas. The Hydrogasification process does not form any carbon dioxide.
- The thermal and carbon efficiency of the Fischer-Tropsch process is limited, whilst the Hydrogasification process maximises the thermal efficiency with both its thermal and carbon efficiency being substantially higher as it is an exothermic reaction requiring greatly reduced energy inputs.
Hydrogasification enables the production of a range of alternative products consisting of totally ash free ultra-pure carbon, hydrogen, methane, methanol, ethanol, butanol, DTME and petrol.
The ash and sulphur in the coal are removed during the Hydrogasification process and can be disposed of in the coal mine in a benign manner. Nitrogen in the coal is converted to gaseous nitrogen and the removal of nitrogen from carbon fuels avoids producing substantial amounts of nitrogen oxide acid gases which cause acidification of the world’s oceans.
A production plant processing 25,000 tonnes of 73.5 per cent carbon content coal results in 11,600 tonnes of UPC and up to 96,000 barrels of methanol. These figures are based on engineering and plant designs that are several decades old. They do not take into account both technology and engineering advances let alone recent innovations in catalytic technology that have resulted in 100 per cent carbon efficiency in gas to ethanol.
Even with these constraints on production efficiency UPC can reach $1,300 per tonne resulting in a return of $15 million per day from this product alone. Other high end products such as butanol, DTME, MTBE could double the return.
The fact that our process emits no carbon dioxide would also result in savings of tens of millions of dollars per annum under either a CO2 tax or an emissions trading scheme.
Over the past year, a large number (20 plus) of specialists in chemical engineering, chemistry, and engineering have worked at Queensland University examining in great detail, the hydrogasification conversion of black coal from the Galilee Basin and brown coal from the Latrobe Valley into both fuels and UPC. The results of this study will be uploaded as they are finalised.
APIED is currently in discussions with interested parties, both within Australia and overseas, to progress the technology to full design and engineering stage before proceeding to pilot plant construction.
It is envisaged that the immediate interest will be in producing ultra pure carbon (UPC) which, because of the removal of all ash content, makes it the ideal fuel for Direct Injection Coal Engines (DICE). These engines can utilise an approximate blend of 50 per cent UPC and 50 per cent water for their fuel requirements. Such technology enables international shipping to either travel twice as far on current tankage or carry additional cargo with reduced tankage given 50 per cent of the fuel requirements are desalinated water.
Because we produce totally ash free UPC, this enables gas turbines to also utilise this fuel in civilian and military aircraft, resulting in cheaper fuel, fewer emissions and higher safety factors as the fuel will not explode or catch fire on impact.