Frequently Asked Questions
What is Synthetic Fuel?
Synthetic Fuel or Synfuel is any liquid fuel obtained from coal, natural gas, or biomass. it can also refer to fuel derived from other solids such as oil shale, tar sand, and solid municipal waste. Wikipedia - Synthetic Fuel
How is Synthetic Fuel Made?
There are various methods to make synthetic fuel. Each methods is similar in nature as they break the feed stock into their bese molecular components, usually with heat and pressure and then reforms them into the desired compunds. The most common methods to break down the feed stock into the base components are Gasification and Pyrolysis which are then treated and processed to form the desired hydrocarbon chains by Distillation, Fischer-Tropsch Processing (FT), or Hydrogenation.
Why do we still need hydrocarbon fuel? Why not move to other alternatives?
Land based vehicles can use alternatives sources of fuel, such as electric batteries that derive their power from solar & wind generation sources. Aircraft and the aviation industry does not have any technology at this time other than hydrocarbon fuel. The only solution for aircraft is to develop hydrogencarbon fuel that is renewable and green in nature.
What is the big deal about 100% Synthetic?
Since synthetic fuels are made by process that differ from traditional petroleum refining the resulting fuels have properties that vary from typical fuels. If the fuels that are produced do not follow specifications set forth by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International) then the fuel is not authorized for use per the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995.
Some synthetic fuel are not able to fulfill all of the specification requirements for some types of fuel. in order to meet the requirements set forth by ASTM they blend the synthetic fuel with traditional petroleum fuel, usually in a blend that is 50% synthetic fuel and 50% traditional petroleum fuel. (50/50 blend)
One of the driving forces for the development of synthetic fuel in the United States is the need to develop fuel independence from foreign oil. The U.S. has vast resources of biomass, coal and other feed stock material that can be used for fuel. The development of synthetic fuel is a matter of national security for this application.
Another driving force for synthetic fuel development is the reduction of use of fossil fuels. Fossil fuel is considered to be a limited source of fuel and a major contributor of Green House Gasses (GHG). The development of synthetic fuel in a matter of global stewarship as synthetic fuels that are made from biomass and solid municipal waste and not fossil fuels such as crude oil and coal a renewable and not harmful to the greenhouse effect.
In the case of national security, 50/50 blends of fuel that relies on crude oil as 50% of the blending stock will not fulfill the need for foreign oil.
In the case of global stewarship, 50/50 blends of fuel that relies on crude oil as 50% of the blend stock is still half made of fossil fuel.
The only way to move forward with synthetic fuel is to first develop a 100% synthetic fuel that can replace existing petroleum fuel, and then ensure that the feed stock that is used is from a source that is renewable and not a fossil fuel.
Why are your inital fuel samples made from coal?
The processing of coal to make synthetic fuel has been around for a long time, and the methods to make fuel from coal are well know. The United States has a lagre reserve of coal (200-300 years of known reserves). Over half of the electrical power generated in the U.S. is from coal.
Coal is a readily avaliable resource and the science of synthetic fuel processing is well know. The blends of synthetic fuel that we are currently testing come from processes that can be used for biomass and solid municple waste; however, slight changes to the process may be required to account for various compounds in those feedstock.
We currently developing a 100% synthetic blend of synthetic fuel from existing processes that use coal, which can also be applied to renewable feed stock. Since the technology is already developed for coal, we can move more rapidly towards for production with coal. We have made some slight changes to our process for coal to ensure that it will produce less GHG than traditional crude oil processing.
In time we will blend biomass and solid waste into our coal feed stock to make it cleaner, but to ensure the quality of the fuel. As we increase the biomass and waste feedstock we can determine how to modify the process to maintain fuel quality to specification.
The goal is 100% synthetic fuel that is made from 100% biomass & waste feed stock.
What are the long term goals for ISF Incorporated?
In time we want to set up plants all across the United States that utilize biomass and waste material to produce fuel.