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Japan’s Coal Liquefaction Technology


In 2004, the retail price of gasoline in Japan skyrocketed.
Behind this sudden price rise was the soaring price of oil. The factors contributing to this were war in the Middle East, supply problems as a result of Texas being hit by a hurricane, and the rising demand for oil in regions such as China undergoing rapid industrialization. The circumstances being experienced in oil producing countries and the growing threat of depletion of oil resources have combined to create a renewed interest in coal. Specifically, liquefied coal.

Oil producing regions are spread unequally across the globe, with a particular concentration in the Middle East. By contrast, coal deposits can be found throughout all regions of the world. Oil reserves are estimated to last no more than thirty or forty years; current estimates on coal, on the other hand, suggest that there is enough to sustain a stable supply for more than 130 years. This clearly indicates that coal will play a central role in solving the energy problems that humankind will face in the 21st century.

There are demerits to coal, however, in comparison to oil, in particular the fact that it is solid. This makes transportation and refinement inefficient, and results in a very large waste gas yield when burned. There has long been a demand for the development of new technology to solve these problems associated with coal as fuel.

The coal liquefaction technology we introduce here is just that kind of new technology, one that provides an answer to very contemporary needs.

In fact, Japan was not first on the uptake of research and development in this field, but in the short time it has been engaged in coal liquefaction and has produced outstanding results, and today boasts internationally top class technology. Now, it is on the brink of commercializing that technology, exporting it to coal-producing nations and regions that are looking for methods to more effectively utilize their natural resources.