Large quantities of coal deposits are available around the globe. Thus, global demand for energy could be met by the usage of coal. The process of converting coal into liquid hydrocarbons such as petrochemicals and liquid fuels is termed as coal liquefaction. The key purpose of coal liquefaction lies in generation and production of synthetic oil, which is a partial substitute resource for aromatic hydrocarbons. They are used as a feedstock used in organic chemical industry. Commercialization of coal liquefaction has been taking place across the globe in order to meet the rising demand for energy.
The coal liquefaction market can be segmented based on type of liquefaction process, application, by-product, and region. Specific liquefaction processes are of two categories: direct coal liquefaction (DCL) and indirect coal liquefaction (ICL). Direct coal liquefaction process is based on approaches such as pyrolysis, carbonization, and hydrogenation. Indirect coal liquefaction occurs in multiple phases, which primarily produce syngas. It is then further modified to obtain liquid hydrocarbons. Byproducts obtained from liquefaction processes include lubricants, alternative liquid fuels, synthetic wax, chemical feedstock, and ultra clean diesel. Syngas generated through the Fischer Tropsch (F-T) technique is used in chemicals, wax, power generation, and biofuels. The methanol to gasification (MTG) technique is usually employed for manufacturing LPG from coal in industrial scale that can be utilized in modified transportation vehicles and heating and cooking processes. Newer technologies and advancements are being introduced for efficient and effective coal liquefaction processes.
Coal liquefaction provides various benefits. It helps reduce dependency of energy on import of oil and gas. In terms of power generation, coal liquefaction is considered less expensive. Infrastructure and logistical requirements for processing and transportation of coal are lower than that for other fossil fuels such as oil and gas. By-products obtained after several processes of coal liquefaction are higher in number. Coal liquefaction, if processed systematically, is expected to lower environments hazards.
The coal liquefaction market also has certain restraints. These include environmental pollution if coal is burned in the atmosphere. Coal liquefaction may cause health problems and optimum air quality issues if handled inappropriately. Risk associated with soil and water contamination in the process of coal liquefaction is high. High capital investment in setting up liquefaction plants and technology implementation are also hampering the coal liquefaction market.
In terms of region, owing to technological advancements and geological characteristics of North America, surplus amounts of coal mining is leading to an increase in demand for coal liquefaction market. Countries in Asia Pacific such as India, China, Japan, and Australia produce high quality and surplus amount of coal. The market for coal liquefaction in Asia Pacific is anticipated to expand significantly in the near future. Countries in Europe such as the U.K. and Germany have increased coal mining. This is likely to boost the coal liquefaction market in the region. Demand for coal liquefaction is expected to increase substantially in Mexico in Latin America. Demand for coal liquefaction is also anticipated to rise in Africa, especially in South Africa, due to the increase in coal mining activities.
Key players operating in the coal liquefaction market include Chevron Corporation, Pall Corporation, Shenhua Group, Yankuang Company, and Jincheng Anthracite Mining Group.