Chapter 10

The Uncertain Future

Is history about to repeat itself? Not long ago, the US government and public embraced coal as a solution to an energy crisis engendered by the OPEC and Iranian oil embargoes of the 1970s. Large corporations like Exxon and Gulf Oil expended millions of dollars to develop and commercialize systems to produce liquid fuels from coal. The plants that were constructed were shut down shortly afterward and the technology was shelved. Now the US Congress has mandated the use of renewable fuels as a solution to a perceived energy crisis. Once again, millions of dollars are being invested for process development and plant construction. At the same time, with the onset of fracking, we may be awash in natural gas and increased ...

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