Chemicals and materials from coal in the 21st century

H. H. Schobert, C. Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

323 Scopus citations


Coal may become more important both as an energy source and as the source of organic chemical feedstock in the 21st century. The demonstrated coal reserves in the world are enough for consumption for over 215 years at the 1998 level, while the known oil reserves are only about 39 times of the world's consumption level in 1998 and the known natural gas reserves are about 63 times of the world's consumption level in 1998. Coal has several positive attributes when considered as a feedstock for aromatic chemicals, specialty chemicals, and carbon-based materials. Substantial progress in advanced polymer materials, incorporating aromatic and polyaromatic units in their main chains, has created new opportunities for developing value-added or specialty organic chemicals from coal and tars from coal carbonization for coke making. The decline of the coal tar industry diminishes traditional sources of these chemicals. The new coal chemistry for chemicals and materials from coal may involve direct and indirect coal conversion strategies as well as the co-production approach. Needs for environmental-protection applications have also expanded market demand for carbon materials. Current status and future directions are discussed in this review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-32
Number of pages18
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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