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Rutgers team's coal-to-diesel breakthrough could drastically cut oil imports

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. Professor Alan Goldman and his Rutgers team in collaboration with researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a way to convert carbon sources, such as coal to diesel fuel.

This important advance could significantly cut America's dependence on foreign oil what President Bush called "an addiction" in his 2006 State of the Union address. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, our 286 billion tons of coal in the ground translate into energy reserves 40 times those of oil.

Goldman explained that the breakthrough technology employs a pair of catalytic chemical reactions that operate in tandem, one of which captured the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This dynamic chemical duo revamps the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process for generating synthetic petroleum substitutes, invented in 1920 but never developed to the point of becoming commercially viable for coal conversion.

The FT process recently gained national attention through the efforts of Brian Schweitzer, governor of coal-rich Montana, who has been publicly extolling the potential of Fischer-Tropsch. The Goldman group's innovations eliminate shortcomings in the process that can finally make it a workable solution to dwindling domestic oil reserves.

"The key to energy independence in the next five decades is Fischer-Tropsch chemistry, amended and enhanced," said Goldman, a professor in the department of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. "The study of catalysts, the little molecular machines that control chemical reactions, is my field. With our new catalysts, one can generate productive, clean burning fuels with Fischer-Tropsch, economically and at unsurpassed levels of efficiency."

This discovery is reported in the April 14 issue of the journal Science by Goldman and his colleagues. The work grew out of a National Science Foundation-funded research consortium, the Cent
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Contact: Joseph Blumberg
blumberg@urmail.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 x652
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
13-Apr-2006


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