Wired magazine has reported that Scientists at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg have developed an improved technique for producing liquid fuel from coal.
The process of producing liquid fuel from coal has already been used on a lage scale – in Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa It’s not only the regimes that have used it that leads many to see this process as evil. Coal-derived fuel could produce as much as twice as much CO2 as traditional petroleum fuels and at best will emit at least as much of the greenhouse gas
The traditional process uses carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen to produce the liquid hydrocarbons. The new process uses just CO2 and hydrogen. The new production method also allows a lower limit on the amount of energy needed to transform solid coal into fuel. Theoretically, the energy required could be reduced from 1,000 megawatts per 200,000 litres of fuel to 350 megawatts per 2000,000 litres but even a small efficiency gain would make the process competitive with many renewable energy processes.
Pushker Karecha of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies commented that "The bottom line is that there’s one fatal flaw in their proposed process from a climate protection standpoint. It would allow liquid fuel CO2 emissions to continue increasing indefinitely."