Coal Fuels Alliance: Design and Construction of Early Lead Mini Fischer-Tropsch Refinery


University of Kentucky

Website:  University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER)
Award Number:  NT0005988
Project Duration:  08/06/2008 – 06/30/2015
Total Award Value:  $5,735,007.00
DOE Share:  $4,568,940.00
Performer Share:  $1,166,067.00
Technology Area:  Advanced Energy Systems
Key Technology:  Coal-Biomass Feed and Gasification
Location:  Lexington, Kentucky

Project Description

The objective of this project is to advance the design and construction of a mini Fischer-Tropsch refinery at the University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER). The unit is intended for use as a low-cost test bed for new concepts. It will provide open-access facilities and information in the public domain to aid the wider scientific and industrial community, and provide a means to independently review vendor claims and validate fuel performance and quality.

Project Benefits

The Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to supporting research focused on making use of the nation's coal and biomass resources. The Coal and Coal Biomass to Liquids (C&CBTL) Technology Program at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is developing advanced technologies to remove technical barriers that will foster the commercial adoption of coal and coal/biomass gasification technologies for the production of affordable hydrogen and liquid fuels (such as gasoline, diesel, aviation, and military fuels). The hydrogen can be used in advanced systems for efficient power generation produced with near-zero emissions and with the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The synthesis gas (syngas) produced by the gasification of coal and coal/biomass mixtures can be converted by chemical processes to generate clean liquid hydrocarbon fuels. To successfully complete the development of C&CBTL technologies from the present state to the point of commercial readiness, the C&CBTL Program efforts are focused on two Key Technologies: (1) Coal/Biomass Feed and Gasification, and (2) Advanced Fuels Synthesis.

The Coal/Biomass Feed and Gasification Key Technology is advancing scientific knowledge of the production of liquid hydrocarbon fuels from coal and/or coal-biomass mixtures. Activities support research for handling and processing of coal/biomass mixtures, ensuring those mixtures are compatible with feed delivery systems, identifying potential impacts on downstream components, catalyst and reactor optimization, and characterizing the range of products and product quality.

The University of Kentucky will advance the design, construction, and operations of a coal/biomass-to-liquids facility at its Center for Applied Energy Research. The facility will have a one barrel per day liquids fuel capacity. This project will develop meaningful research and engineering about the technology and processes, scalability, cost and economics, and the product slate, characteristics, and quality. Coal-to-liquid technology is helping the United States in its quest for energy security and independence and will enable American companies to produce valuable products from domestic coal.

This project is closely aligned with project number DE-FC26-FE0010482 under which The Coal Fuels Alliance, led by the University of Kentucky will advance the design and construction of a Coal/Biomass-to-Liquids Process Development Unit (PDU) facility at its Center for Applied Energy Research.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
Arun Bose:
Technology Manager 
Jenny Tennant:
Principal Investigator 
Rodney Andrews:

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