A technique known as the Bixby Process is said to take carbon solids and hydrogen and super-heats and continuously pressurize them in a reactor to produce a semi-refined light sweet crude oil, which can further be processed into diesel fuel, jet fuel, gasoline, or other fuel products.
The liquefaction technology is actually just one part of the Bixby Process. The entire Bixby Process, which consists of a devolitization phase plus liquefaction, is put into place, is claimed to unlock more than 80% of all the useable energy found in coal. Current technologies manage to only unlock 31% of coal's energy. Bixby plans to complete the construction of a liquefaction beta unit in mid-2011.
The liquefaction technology is being developed with Proton Power, a start-up in Knoxville, Tenn. that makes power systems. The company expects to complete construction of a liquefaction beta unit next year and plans to move into commercial production then.
The Bixby Process consists of two phases: devolitization and liquefaction. The devolitization process does not burn coal, but rather superheats it in a closed-loop environment. This produces a high-quality synthetic natural gas that other gas conversion processes don't produce. The remaining by-product of the coal after the devolitization process is solid, semi-activated carbon material, which goes into Bixby’s liquefaction process.
The carbon solids are processed in a Bixby liquefaction reactor where they combine with hydrogen, are super-heated and continuously pressurized to produce a semi-refined light sweet crude oil. Any remaining non-usable material is vitrified and made into inert ingots for safe disposal.
More information: www.bixbyenergy.com