Non-fuel uses of coals and synthesis of chemicals and materials

Chunshan Song, Harold H. Schobert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


This paper provides an account of our analysis of future needs for non-fuel uses of fossil fuels, particularly coal, and a discussion of possible new routes for developing chemicals and materials from coal. An overview of energy supply and demand in the world and the existing non-fuel uses of fossil fuels in the US is given first. The amount of energy used for non-fuel purpose is small compared with the amount of energy consumed by end users. The non-fuel uses of fossil fuels - particularly coal - may become more important in the future. The demonstrated coal reserves in the world are enough for consumption for over 220 years at the 1992 level, while the oil reserves are only about 40 times the world's consumption level in 1992. Coal may become more important both as an energy source and as the source of chemical feedstocks in the 21st century. However, traditional non-fuel uses of coals (coke ovens and the coal tars) are diminishing rapidly. We will discuss possible new processes for making both bulk and specialty chemicals, polymers and carbon materials from coals and liquids from coal liquefaction. Specific examples will be provided from work in progress in our laboratory, including conversion of coals and coal liquids to specialty chemicals, polymer materials, activated carbons, graphitic carbons, and electrode materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)724-736
Number of pages13
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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