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Special Report: Coal to Chemicals Visiting and Revisiting the Future Chain
Report Overview
Subjects addressed:

Profiles of Major Coal to Chemical Technologies:




Chemicals from Syngas


Chemicals via Acetylene

Estimated Coal to Chemicals Costs of Production

Competitiveness of Chemical Production from Coal

versus Petrochemicals on a Delivered Coastal China

Review of Use of Coal in the Chinese Chemical


Coal appears to be on the verge of once again attaining

a key role in the global chemical industry. Coal lost
its dominance to low priced oil and gas in the middle
of the 20th century, but it is enjoying a comeback due
to technology advances and the desire of the Chinese
government to exploit its coal resources as a means
of reducing its reliance on petrochemical imports. For
China, coal now offers a realistic and available chemicals
starting point when compared to the alternatives of
importing LNG, LPG, naphtha or crude oil.
Coal gasification is a well-proven technology with a
long history of applications ranging from the earliest
uses of coal gas for heating and lighting in urban areas,
progressing to the production of synthetic fuels such as
liquid hydrocarbons and synthetic natural gas, chemicals,
and most recently to large-scale integrated gasification
combined cycle power generation.
Essentially all of the important first-stage organic
petrochemicals were made from coal during the 1900 to
1930 period. However, the chemical industry switched
almost completely to natural gas and petroleum liquids
over the 1940 to 1965 period driven by their low cost
and ready availability. The use of coal for the production
of organic chemicals diminished greatly over time
as a consequence of both its high capital cost and
environmental concerns regarding by-products produced,
and the effects of coal mining/extraction.

Coal currently is enjoying resurgence as a chemical

feedstock, especially in China. Drivers of Chinese coal use
in petrochemicals include technology advances, the desire to
stimulate employment in under-developed regions with coal
reserves, government objectives to reduce reliance on imported
petrochemical products, and the relatively low price of coal
relative to competing fuels in China.
This planned study will give subscribers a solid grasp of
the state of development of coal to chemicals technologies,
including an update on the status of such technologies as
currently practiced in China. The study will provide a snapshot
analysis of the most favorable coal to chemicals economics,
on a mine-mouth basis, as compared to the production cost of
the same product via petrochemical routes. The two sets of
economics will be contrasted on a delivered Coastal China
Nexant will review the following gasification technologies:

Fixed-bed reactors

Fluidized-bed reactors

Entrained-flow reactors

Nexant will also examine the technologies for coal to chemicals

by reviewing and evaluating the processes and economics for
the production of major petrochemicals, including:

From syngas: methanol, ammonia, urea, MEG, MTO/

HDPE, MTP/PP, acetic acid, ethanol (via Celaneses
new technology) and emerging methanol to aromatics

From acetylene: vinyl acetate, VCM/PVC, butanediol,

acrylic acid, and acrylonitrile

Longer term, the use of coal is expected to have competitive

pressures due to coals environmental issues such issues will
also be discussed from the Chinese perspective.
This multi-client report will be useful to both producers and
consumers of chemicals who seek to understand the rapidly
emerging production opportunities afforded by advances in coal
to chemicals technology.
For information regarding the upcoming Coal to Chemicals
Visiting and Revisiting the Future report, please contact

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