The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) soliciting research proposals for new technologies for the conversion of coal to liquid (CTL) hydrocarbon fuels that are more environmentally friendly and cost-competitive with petroleum-based fuels. Specifically, DARPA is looking for processes that generate no CO2 and that consume about half the water of current technology.Creating a low cost, low emission, low water usage way to convert coal to a liquid fuel would be huge. It is not clear to me how it would be even possible to get rid of all of the co2 emissions, but maybe they are thinking of some sort of sequestering. I think this is a good goal, but it seems highly ambitious for $4.5 million in funding.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) currently uses on average more than 300,000 barrels (12.6 million gallons US, 47.7 million liters) of petroleum-based liquid fuels per day. Given the estimated US coal reserves of 275 billion tons, existing CTL technologies could meet the DoD need for liquid fuels “for several thousand years”, according to DARPA.
FT-based CTL (indirect liquefaction) produces about 1.3 kg of CO2 and 0.27 kg of oil, while consuming 1 kg of water, for every kilogram of coal processed. DARPA believes that innovative CTL concepts may exist that result in zero carbon dioxide emissions by avoiding the production of carbon dioxide, and that water consumption per kg of coal could be reduced to less than 0.5 kg.
Basic metrics for the solicited projects are:
The opportunity is limited to one Government fiscal year’s worth of funding. DARPA is anticipating multiple awards, but the combined maximum amount of all awards will not exceed $4.56 million.
- Capital cost < $15,000 barrels per day (bpd) capacity
- End user cost < $3 per gallon for JP-8 aviation fuel
- Scalable to 100,000 bpd
- Zero carbon dioxide emissions (up to the 100,000 bpd production levels)
via Green Car Congress