Coal—the Fossil Fuel of the Future
In chapter 2 it was pointed out that one of the oldest methods of producing hydrogen (as a constituent of ‘town gas’) is from coal. Moreover, table 5.2 shows that coal conversion to liquid fuels requires 6000–7000 SCF of hydrogen per barrel of synthetic oil and about 1500 SCF to produce 1000 SCF of synthetic gas. Thus, it is seen that there can be an intimate connection in production/use of both hydrogen and coal. Presently the industrial world runs on a hydrocarbon economy and there is an immense investment (economic = energy) in this hydrocarbon economy. With the huge reserves of coal (see chapter 1 and figure 7.1) available it is imperative that large-scale conversion to ‘clean’ hydrocarbon fuels be exploited. In order to do this the industrial production of hydrogen will have to be considerably expanded, and in this way one might see the dawn of the hydrogen era in about 50–75 years when production_methods from solar and/or nuclear sources are well developed and our economy has become better adjusted to the change, slight though it may be, from synthetic hydrocarbons to hydrogen.