(363c) “Cold” Extraction and Liquefaction of Fossil Fuels | AIChE

(363c) “Cold” Extraction and Liquefaction of Fossil Fuels


Fan, L. T. - Presenter, Kansas State University
Shafie, S. - Presenter, Green Source Energy, LLC

Our process for "cold" extraction and liquefaction of various fossil fuels, facetiously named analogous to the "cold" fusion of hydrogen, has been invented based on our serendipitous observations of unexpected phenomena when an essentially green solvent is mixed with powdered coal. It is worth recalling that Salt Lake City is the birthplace of the "cold" fusion of hydrogen, which has totally fizzled. In contrast, however, our "cold" extraction and liquefaction process for fossil fuels has survived third-party verifications by several reputable testing laboratories with flying colors. Moreover, it is well on the way to sustainable commercialization, environmentally and economically, although the domestic and foreign filings of patents for the process have barely been completed.

Various fossil fuels, such as oil sands, heavy crude oil, coal and oil shale, can be extracted or liquefied by our process under or near ambient conditions with a single green solvent. In addition, our process is effected without the aid of additional reagents, such as transport media (water and diluents), catalysts, and surfactants as well as without external supply of large mechanical forces and uncommon forms of energy, e.g., ultrasonic, microwave or nuclear radiation. Apparently, this is hardly the case for any of the available processes for extraction or liquefaction of fossil fuels. These available processes, therefore, tend to be exceedingly expensive to construct and be environmentally unsustainable.

Our "cold" extraction or liquefaction process for fossil fuels is deployable in the subsurface (in situ) as well as on the surface (ex situ). An independent pilot-scale test performed at a leading reservoir engineering laboratory has recovered more than 90% of the residual heavy crude remaining in samples of Berea sandstone plug core with the injection of only 5 pore volumes of our solvent. A third-party verification test carried out at one of the nation's major contract R&D companies has extracted at least 96% of bitumen from Alberta oil sands with an average tar content of 13% in a semi-pilot-scale facility within 5 minutes; the test conditions were 70°C under ambient pressure (1 atm), and the ratio of sample to solvent was 1:1. The residual bitumen on the sands after extraction was determined by an analytical laboratory of Alberta Research Council. Highly encouraging results have also been obtained with a variety of coal by the same company as well as in our laboratory. The extraction of hydrocarbons from coal, however, required about 30 minutes at temperatures approximately between 90 and 100°C with the pressure remaining at 1 atm.