By Dr. Russell Chianelli, The University of Texas at El Paso, Materials Research and Technology Institute
Every day we read news reports of the rising price of liquid hydrocarbon fuels used for transportation and other energy needs. Part of the cause of the increasing price of fuels such as gasoline is the rapidly increasing demand caused by China’s expanding economy. China lacks major sources of petroleum and is therefore pursuing the liquefaction of its plentiful coal resources. In the Energy Quarterly section of the March issue of MRS Bulletin, Rocco Fiato addresses this subject in an article entitled “China and South Africa pursue coal liquefaction.” The situation in China is reminiscent of that in South Africa during the period when apartheid reigned. This policy led to a world embargo on petroleum and petroleum products that forced South Africa, which has large deposits of coal, to develop liquefaction technology. South Africa is currently the world leader in this field. Though at present South African coal liquefaction technology releases CO2 into the air, China has expressed interest in capturing the CO2 to produce biofuels. The article is an interesting overview of where coal liquefaction is heading and how it will affect world fuel supplies.
 MRS BULLETIN • VOLUME 37 • MARCH 2012 • www.mrs.org/bulletin • Energy Quarterly, “China and South Africa pursue coal liquefaction”, Rocco Fiato, with Prachi Patel Feature Editor, pages 204-205.