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Future Prospects of Synthetic Fuels
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It is important for the future of this nation to reach the goal of demonstrated definition and quantification of the parameters which influence the ability to use this country's vast resources of coal and oil shale for production of synthetic fuels which can contribute to the nation's future energy needs. Those parameters are: technical, environmental, and economic viability. In the final analysis, the key word is economics; can, or when can synthetic fuels compete in the marketplace? A commercial synthetic fuels plant requires a multi-billion dollar capital investment. It is the purpose of this paper to discuss the risk elements of a synthetic fuels venture and to speculate on what impact the current environment, e.g. governmental policy, world crude market prices, and general economic climate may have on the timetable for achievement of the aforementioned goal. In June 1980 the author presented a paper at the AIChE Meeting in Philadelphia, Pa. entitled 'Synthetic Fuels - Their Problems and Their Promises.' The opening paragraph of that paper started as follows: 'For three decades, since the days of World War II, a U.S. synthetic fuels industry has several times verged on becoming a reality but never succeeding, the ups and downs resembling a sine wave of variable frequency. As of this writing we are at the crest of the wave. Is this the time it will happen? For the good of the nation hopefully the answer will be yes.' It is the purpose of this paper, some 20 months later, to examine what has transpired in that time interval and to speculate, in the light of those events, about their impact on the likelihood of the answer still being 'yes' and on the timing as to when it may occur. To set the stage for consideration of the importance of recent events and to put them in perspective, it is necessary to return again to the earlier paper where some of the impediments to the establishment of a U.S. synfuels industry were discussed. In essence what was said was that the principal impediments were: economic, environmental, and regulatory, and since both the economic and regulatory aspects exert some direct and/or indirect influence on cost, the problem really reduced to the single most important factor--project economics. Synthetic fuels simply are expensive to produce!
SubjectCommercial Synthetic Fuels
Capital and Risk
Economic and Political Climate
Fryback, M. G. (1982). Future Prospects of Synthetic Fuels. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.tamu.edu); Texas A&M University (http://www.tamu.edu). Available electronically from