Two Concepts in the Production of Liquid Fossil Fuels

by Mary E. Chenoweth, Joseph F. Benzoni, William Micklish

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This Note documents the results of an analysis of two novel approaches to the production of liquid fuels from coal and oil shale that might offer major benefits over current fossil fuel technologies. The two concepts considered were lignin/coal/oil coprocessing, and aboveground retorting of oil shale using high-power microwaves. The authors analyzed the potential product cost impacts of both concepts and investigated their implied economic chokepoints. The findings suggest that there are many reasons that lignin/coal/oil coprocessing has promise. In addition, the process of retorting oil shale using high-power electromagnetic radiation in the microwave portion of the spectrum warrants an engineering scale-up to test the range of working parameters and establish the actual economic impacts to oil shale recovery by this method.

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