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Debate: Coal-to-liquids (CTL) technology

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What are the pros and cons of coal-to-liquids technology?

Background and context

There are several different methods to convert coal to liquid. The two most common types are direct liquefaction (hydrogenation and carbonation) and liquefaction through conversion. Both methods produce a large amount of CO2 compared to the CO2 released from extracting liquid fuels from petroleum.

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Economic viability: Is CTL economically viable?

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Yes

  • CTL is a mature and economically viable technology. America's Power.org. "Ask the Experts" - "Coal-to-liquids (CTL) technology is not an immature field. Germany and South Africa have been gasifying coal and turning it into low-sulfur diesel and jet fuel for decades. [...] Based on an U.S. Department of Energy formula, it would be economical to produce fuel from coal when the price of a barrel of crude oil is at least $54. [...] With oil hovering near $100 per barrel, we hope that America can roll out its first commercial-scale CTL refineries soon so that we can ensure our energy independence."


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No

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Foreign dependence: Can CTL lower foreign energy dependencies?

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Yes

  • CTL can help lower dependencies on foreign oil. America's Power.org. "Ask the Experts" - "Is coal-to-liquids technology economically viable and why would we want to use coal to power our cars? While Americans rely on coal for 50 percent of our electricity, coal does not help contribute to our needs for transportation fuel. As a result, America is forced to get most of our transportation fuel from politically volatile parts of the world such as the Middle East."


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No

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